FORT WORTH -- Two teenagers accused of shooting a 17-year-old Southwest High School student in the head after he interrupted a burglary will be tried as adults, a state district judge ruled Monday.
Clifton Elliott and Broderick Patterson, both 16, blamed each other for killing Eric Forrester, a homicide detective testified during recent certification hearings. The teens had faced charges of delinquent conduct/capital murder. Now the case will be transferred to the adult system for review by a grand jury.
Forrester was shot April 12 after he and his sister arrived at their Wedgwood home for lunch and evidently surprised burglars, authorities have said. Forrester died the next day. His sister, 21, was not injured.
Prosecutors Josh Ross and Riley Shaw asked Judge Jean Boyd to move the trials to the adult system, pointing to the seriousness of the crime. Also, they said, Elliott and Patterson were already on probation for the burglary of a house in which handguns were stolen, but they had not abided by the terms set in the juvenile court system.
Testimony during the Aug. 12 hearings revealed that the shooting was recorded by a 911 tape after Forrester secretly dialed for help and put his cellphone in a pocket.
Fort Worth police homicide Detective Michel Carroll testified that the Tarrant County medical examiner's office found that Forrester had been shot execution-style. That and other evidence conflicted with statements by the teenage suspects that the gun went off accidentally when Forrester was hit in the head with the handgun, Carroll testified.
He said both teens initially denied any involvement in the burglary or Forrester's death. After Elliott was told that his fingerprint was found on the backyard gate, however, his account changed, Carroll said.
According to Elliott, the teens broke into the house to burglarize it. When they heard someone come home, they briefly hid before Patterson met Forrester at the top of the stairs, Carroll testified.
Patterson demanded that Forrester get him a bag, and Forrester said he would try to find one.
Carroll testified that, as heard on the 911 recording, the argument over the bag grew more heated and then, "you hear a gunshot."
Elliott's version of what happened was that Patterson had struck Forrester with the gun twice. It fired accidentally the second time, hitting Forrester, Carroll said. Elliott said Forrester kept "bucking" Patterson, Carroll testified.
"He wasn't listening to Broderick. 'Someone got a gun on you, you should do everything that they tell you,'" Carroll quoted Elliott as saying.
Patterson, Carroll testified, first said he was only a lookout for the burglary but later admitted that he entered the house with Elliott.
According to Patterson, the teens were upstairs when they heard Forrester calling, "Hello? Hello." The teens were hiding under the pool table when Elliott pulled out a gun, Carroll said.
Patterson told investigators that he chased Forrester's sister from the house and returned to find Elliott in the living room, demanding a bag from Forrester. He said Elliott struck Forrester in the back of the head with the gun, causing it to discharge, when Forrester turned to go find a bag.
The teens initially told police that they ran from the house and through two apartment complexes and climbed two fences before splitting up, after which they did not talk to each other.
But, Carroll said, Patterson's brother told detectives that the teens were both at Patterson's house shortly after the slaying, arguing and appearing upset.
When police searched Patterson's residence, they found two laptops that were reported missing from Forrester's house. Also, they found clothing matching what Forrester's sister said one suspect was wearing as he ran away.
Regardless of which teen pulled the trigger, Ross said, under the law of parties, both teens were involved.
Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752