Harris County District Attorney’s Office and FBI Work Together to Extradite Man Charged in 1995 Houston Murder from Mexico

Harris County District Attorney’s Office and FBI Work Together to  Extradite Man Charged in 1995 Houston Murder from Mexico

A fugitive charged with murder in a 1995 shooting in Houston has been extradited from Mexico, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.

“The Harris County District Attorney’s Office and the FBI worked hand-in-hand to find, detain and extradite this accused killer,” Ogg said. “And now we can continue our work in the courts to get justice for the victim and her family.”

Jose Luis Rios, 47, was one of two men who fled the country after they opened fire on a group of people in a Channelview park in a shooting that wounded one woman and killed another.

“The FBI has a very long memory, and the FBI has a very long reach,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge David Martinez of the FBI Houston Field Office. “Fugitive Jose Luis Rios was arrested in Mexico in August thanks to the FBI’s global reach and international partnerships.”

Rios and his friend, Jorge Mendez, were driving a red truck through River Terrace Park at 16500 Market Street in Channelview in east Harris County around 12:15 a.m. on December 23, 1995.

The two men drove up to a blue Chevrolet Beretta parked in a secluded area of the park. Kristie Martin, a 19-year-old former Galena Park High School cheerleader, was at the park with another woman and two men. The four had dined out together earlier that night.

Martin and one of the men were standing outside of the car when Mendez drove up with Rios in the passenger seat. The two called out to the group to approach them, and Martin told her group they should leave.

They were getting back in the car when Rios fired at least five shots, killing Martin with a shot to the back and wounding the other woman.

Mendez and Rios fled the scene and eventually went to Mexico. Detectives with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office were able to identify and charge Rios and Mendez, who were local gang members. Two people came forward to tell police that Rios admitted to them that he shot Martin. Police also interviewed his girlfriend who had followed Rios and Mendez to the park and witnessed the shooting.

As the years passed, the case was featured on several television shows, including America's Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries.

In 2001, Mendez was arrested in Mexico. Instead of allowing him to be extradited, Mexican authorities tried him and he was sentenced to 31 years in prison.

Rios, who was arrested in Mexico in August and landed back in Houston late Wednesday, faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted of murder.

“Now, almost 28 years to the day after Kristie Martin’s murder, her suspected killer will finally return to Harris County and set foot in a courtroom to face justice long overdue,”  Acting Special Agent in Charge Martinez said. “To the victims and their families, you don’t forget and neither do we.”

Kim Bryant, head of the DA’s Fugitive Apprehension Section, credited the FBI Houston’s Violent Crimes Task Force and the FBI’s Mexico City Legal Attaché Office for their work in returning Rios to America.

“It’s important that our community and our law enforcement partners know that we will never stop trying to bring back defendants to face justice,” Bryant said. “And it does not matter how long it takes.”