Black man accused of killing 7-year-old after witnesses pointed to white suspect says he’s innocent
According to NBC News, Larry D. Woodruffe, one of two men accused of shooting and killing 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes in late December and charged with capital murder, is declaring his innocence. This week, Woodruffe told police that he was not involved in the murder of Barnes, and the only thing that connected him to the case was the confession of Eric Black Jr., another man who is allegedly involved in the murder. Woodruffe’s attorney Lisa Andrews told NBC News, “My experience is that people have a big motive to get themselves out of hot water… It is also my experience, after twenty years of doing criminal law on both sides, that shooters don’t give up their gun. And that gun he led the cops to was at his house, not my client’s.”
Initially, the killing of Barnes raised fears that the shooting was a hate crime after her sisters, who were also in the car, described a white suspect driving a red pickup truck. Sherriff Ed Gonzalez claims the discrepancy can be explained by the fact that “you’re talking about small children who witness something very traumatic… It’s very likely that the last thing they did see was that red truck, and the driver that was in that truck.”
When he was arrested on an unrelated traffic charge, 20-year-old Black, who is also Black, told the Houston Police Department that he was the driver of the car the fatal shots came from. Last week in court, the prosecutor said that Black had an accomplice who was only identified as Larry W. at the time.
According to court documents, Black told police that the gun used in the shooting was at his house and gave them permission to search his residence. Officers found a 9mm pistol that matched shell casings from the scene. Woodruffe appeared for the first time in court Thursday, and did not say anything to the judge.
A Harris County spokesperson told the media that both are being charged with capital murder and face either life in prison or death if convicted. Neither Black nor Woodruffe have entered an official plea to the charges against them. Woodruffe’s attorney is seeking a change of venue, claiming that he cannot get a fair trial in Harris County.