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Houston man charged with murder in homeless killing

October 1, 2018

A Houston man accused of killing a woman and a dog was hoping to silence a witness when he allegedly murdered a homeless man he’d shot once before, according to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

Jamin Stocker was already in jail for that slaying — a capital crime — when prosecutors last month added on a murder charge for the earlier shooting of the woman, records show. It’s not yet clear whether the district attorney’s office will seek a death sentence.

The 34-year-old was initially jailed in January on an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge after he allegedly shot Brent Tapp in the leg five months earlier. The 67-year-old victim told police he was standing in the corner of a parking lot near the Wheeler homeless encampment when Stocker opened fire from the second-story balcony of a nearby apartment building, according to court records.

Stocker had been firing shots from the balcony for a couple weeks, Tapp told police. But court records still don’t make clear — and prosecutors declined to clarify — why he allegedly shot the older man. Houston police tried arresting him at the time, but when a SWAT team showed up at the townhome, no one was there. Inside, according to a department spokesman, officers found a stockpile of weapons.

Authorities filed charges in that case in August 2017, but Stocker eluded capture for several months.

In the meantime, according to court records, he allegedly shot Tapp again — this time fatally — all in an effort to keep the homeless man from testifying against him for the earlier assault, according to the district attorney’s office. The killing was one of four homicides at the Midtown homeless encampment in barely a year.

Though he was jailed in January in connection with the August shooting, he wasn’t charged in the slaying until April. But because that second shooting was considered retaliation, the case went capital.

Prosecutors could push for a death sentence, though district attorney’s office spokesman Dane Schiller said the matter hasn’t yet gone before the capital review committee that makes those decisions.

With that possibility still pending, in August of this year, Stocker was charged with another murder — the 2016 slaying of Charlotte Walker.

That March, Stocker allegedly opened fire in the 2700 block of Sampson. He was aiming for a man, prosecutors said, but instead allegedly killed both Walker and the man’s dog.

Authorities had few details to offer on who Walker was and whether she had any connections to Stocker.

“We have not yet met with her family to discuss her life,” Schiller said. “That will happen at a later date. We don’t yet know why he killed her.”

Neither of Stocker’s attorneys responded to requests for comment.

“I’ve been shocked by all of this,” said Shere Dore, a local activist and homeless advocate who knew Stocker. “He was very involved in activism, he was very involved in the black community — I don’t know if something in him flipped.”

Born in Germany, Stocker had lived in Houston for some time and held down a job at a pizza delivery service, according to court records.

Though charging documents describe him as homeless, Dore said that Stocker did not see himself that way as he “believed in squatting rights.” In 2013, a jury even cleared him of misdemeanor criminal trespassing after he was accused of squatting in an abandoned home. Jurors decided he had greater claim to the home than its owner, according to court records.

Though that charge was thrown out, he also racked up a pair of convictions for weapons charges. He’s currently being held in the Harris County Jail without bail.

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