Texas

Teens haggled over the price of LSD. It ended with a bullet to the head, Houston cops say

Houston authorities investigate the April 30 shooting death of Sam Kyle James, 31, at an apartment complex parking garage.
Houston authorities investigate the April 30 shooting death of Sam Kyle James, 31, at an apartment complex parking garage. Screenshot from KTRK

Before Sam Kyle James left his Houston apartment for a drug deal on April 30, he made one simple request of his girlfriend: If he wasn’t back within 15 minutes, she should come looking for him.

After 15 minutes, James hadn’t returned — and when the girlfriend went looking for him just before midnight, she found her 31-year-old boyfriend lying lifeless on the floor of the apartment’s parking garage, according to a police report. There was a single bullet wound in James’ head, and someone was already performing CPR on him, she told police.

First responders pronounced James dead at the scene.

Texas authorities have now arrested two 19-year-olds, Devyn Durham and Jace Weeks, in James’ death. Both admitted to police that they had driven from Lufkin, Texas, to a Houston parking garage to buy LSD from James that night, the police report said. But as the teens were haggling with James over the price of the drugs, James opened the passenger-side door of their Acura — and that’s when Weeks shot him, both teens told police.

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Devyn Durham, 19 Angelina County Sheriff's Office

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Jace Weeks, 19 Harris County Sheriff's Office

Durham had asked Weeks “to bring a firearm with them in case [James] tried to rob them during the drug deal,” according to the police report. A third witness, who was in the car, corroborated the story to police.

Durham is being held in the Angelina County Jail on suspicion of murder and evading arrest, with bond set at $510,000, while Weeks is at the Harris County Jail on suspicion of murder, KTRE reports. Weeks’ bond is set at $75,000.

It didn't take long to track down the two suspects, according to the police report.

Surveillance camera footage had caught the teens' Acura driving out of the parking garage with its lights off shortly after the murder, police said.

When police ran the Acura's license plate number through a database, they learned it belonged to a man who lived in Lufkin. James’ girlfriend had told authorities that the person he was meeting was from Lufkin, and that James had been texting someone named “Devyn” the night of the murder. Officers then used a database to figure out that the Lufkin resident the Acura was registered to had a relative named Devyn, the police report said.

That led police to Huntington, a town just outside Lufkin in Angelina County, where an officer found the Acura from the video and a pile of items next to the car — including a .22 caliber fired cartridge casing. That’s the same kind of casing that had been found at the murder scene, according to police.

A relative interviewed by police said Durham hadn’t been home the night of April 30, and that he’d been driving the Acura. The relative also said Durham and Weeks had admitted to her that they had fled from an officer who had stopped them Corrigan, Texas, which is between Houston and Lufkin. That traffic stop occurred in the hours after the murder, police said.

Last week, on May 3, police interviewed both Durham and Weeks, and they admitted to committing the crime, according to the report.

Both suspects were charged in the murder on Sunday, KTRK reports. But while Weeks turned himself in to Harris County authorities on Monday, Durham led Angelina County deputies on a chase.

Durham wrecked his vehicle Tuesday near Huntington and then was taken into custody, the Angelina County Sheriff’s Office said. There was a female juvenile passenger in the car, deputies said, and she was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

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