Houston Man Indicted for Murder in Shooting of 9-Year-Old Arlene Alvarez in 2022

Houston Man Indicted for Murder in Shooting  of 9-Year-Old Arlene Alvarez in 2022

Tony Earls Jr., a 33-year-old from Houston, was indicted Tuesday for murder in the fatal shooting of 9-year-old Arlene Alvarez in 2022, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.

“We have a duty to see that justice is done, and that meant asking a new grand jury to look at new evidence,” Ogg said. “We have done everything possible to figure out exactly what happened that day to ensure that we get justice.”

Earls was at the Chase Bank at the intersection of Winkler and Woodridge in Gulfgate when he was robbed at gunpoint about 9:30 p.m. Feb. 14, 2022.

After the robbery, Earls pulled a handgun and opened fire at the robber, who was running away from him.

At the same time, the Alvarez family, including 9-year-old Arlene, were driving in their pickup past the bank where Earls had just been robbed. Earls fired several shots into the truck, hitting and killing the child.

Earls was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, but a Harris County grand jury declined to indict him in July 2022, and he was released.

Earlier this year, DA Ogg assigned special prosecutor Warren Diepraam to re-examine the case.

Diepraam said an FBI firearms expert was brought in to examine the physical evidence, take measurements at the scene and look at surveillance videos that had been collected.

“The expert’s opinion is that Mr. Earls saw the robber run past the vehicle with Arlene Alvarez inside — the vehicle did not do anything to give Mr. Earls a justification to shoot into the passing vehicle,” Diepraam said. “Mr. Earls had a clear line of sight, and obviously Mr. Alvarez did not stop and say to the robber, ‘Get in’ or anything like that.”

Diepraam also credited the Houston Police Department with continuing to investigate the case and gather evidence even after Earls was no-billed. He noted that HPD investigators continue to work to identify and arrest the armed man who robbed Earls.

Grand jury proceedings are secret, but the panels generally look at evidence and hear from witnesses, including new witnesses, when determining whether to indict.

If convicted of murder, Earls faces the full range of punishment, from 5 years in prison to life.