A 37-year-old man was arrested Tuesday in connection with the broad daylight robbery and fatal shooting two weeks ago of an 18-year-old Joshua man targeted while riding his bike.
James E. Murphy was arrested on a capital murder warrant Tuesday, accused in the slaying of Chaz Gilley.
He was being held in the Mansfield Jail on Tuesday night with bail set at $300,000 in the capital murder case and $100,000 on an unrelated aggravated robbery case stemming from an Oct. 14 game room robbery.
Homicide Sgt. Joe Loughman said investigators believe Gilley was randomly targeted Oct. 7 after the suspect spotted him at the Wal-Mart off East Berry Street. Gilley’s mother, Chesala Sanderson, said her son went to the First Convenience Bank inside the Wal-Mart that day to open an account so that he could cash his first paycheck.
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Sanderson said her son was riding home on East Berry Street when he was struck by a black car — an occupant of which then shot the teen multiple times.
Loughman declined to say whether the suspect got away with any of Gilley’s property before fleeing.
A passerby picked up Gilley, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds to his torso and extremities, and drove him to an area fire station, where an ambulance was summoned. He was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital where he died from his injuries almost 24 hours after the shooting while in the operating room.
Relatives have said Gilley attended Mansfield Lake Ridge High School and had only recently moved to the East Berry Street area to live with his mother and begin working at Goodwill in Fort Worth.
Sanderson said Tuesday’s arrest was bittersweet.
“I was praying for this,” Sanderson said. “ I want these people off the streets so they can’t take the lives of someone else’s family members. They haven’t destroyed us. They’ve made us stronger, but our family will never be the same without my son.
“The sad thing is their family is going to be torn up over this too,” she added. “It’s so senseless.”
‘My son is dead’
Sanderson said that since her son’s death, she finds herself constantly looking for black cars that might have damage from striking her son.
“I see the killers everywhere. I told my husband I have to get away from here. We have to move,” Sanderson said. “I cannot bear to go to the grocery story. I cannot bear to come down the street. Everywhere I look I see my baby just riding down the street and they’re shooting him.”
She said she felt torn Tuesday between wanting prosecutors to seek the ultimate punishment of death in the case and “not wanting vengeance because I am a Christian and vengeance is not mine to get.”
“Maybe life in prison without the chance of parole would be sufficient enough,” Sanderson said. “The mother in me that lost her son is torn because my son doesn’t get to live. My son doesn’t get to watch TV when he wants, to have family visit. My son is dead. He will never grow up. He will never reach the age of 37. It’s hard to not want them to pay the ultimate price.”
She said Murphy’s age, 37, makes it harder to wrap her head around the situation.
“That’s not a child. If it was kids, it might make a little more sense because they wouldn’t know any better ... this was a grown man,” she said.
Tarrant County court records show that Murphy has previous convictions dating to 1996 for criminal trespassing, aggravated robbery, burglary, assault and theft.
He was charged in 2007 with capital murder in the December 2007 fatal shooting and robbery of O.D. Wyatt freshman Kelvin Collier. but the case was dismissed more than a year later at the request of prosecutors, court records show.
Collier, 16, was shot repeatedly after answering a knock at the door of his family’s southeast Fort Worth apartment.
Murphy and a second man, Wesley Eugene Davis, were arrested within days of the slaying.
The boy’s mother told police she had heard a scuffle after her son opened the door and recognized Davis’s voice saying, “Where’s it at? Go get the money” before five shots rang out. The mother jumped through a window to escape, then played dead after being shot in the thigh.
Collier’s sister told police that Murphy, whom she identified in a photo line-up as the second gunman, had come into her bedroom, pointed a black handgun at her and asked her where the money was. She told investigators she discovered her brother fatally injured and asking for help after the man walked out of her room and she heard the front door slam.
Case records show the capital murder charges were dismissed in February 2009 against both Murphy and Davis. The records do not list a reason for the dismissal beyond “prosecutor discretion.”
Samantha Jordan, a spokeswoman for the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, said Tuesday, “The prosecutor did not feel that there was sufficient evidence to proceed in that case.”