AG’s Office Secures Two Capital Murder Convictions

ken paxton
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton | Image by Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The Texas Attorney General’s Office announced guilty verdicts it obtained in two high-profile capital murder cases.

The defendants on trial in a fatal shooting rampage in Longview in 2020 and a social media sham that resulted in a killing in El Campo in 2021 were both found guilty this week. Attorney General Ken Paxton’s team headed the prosecution in both cases.

In the first case, the defendant, Brandon Harris, was accused of killing 24-year-old Valerie Hackett during a rage-fueled attack on the management offices of Ware Meadows Apartments in Longview on January 30, 2020. Harris and his wife had been living there but were issued an eviction notice after he had allegedly assaulted the tenant of another unit. He entered the premises with a rifle with the intention of killing those he believed to be responsible.

“I shot that woman multiple times point-blank range,” Harris allegedly told investigators upon his arrest, according to KLTV 7.

He showed no remorse for killing Hackett neither at the time of the shooting nor at his trial, during which he refused to participate, according to the AG Office’s news release. In fact, when under questioning shortly after his arrest, he told police he wished he had killed more people — who had all fled when the shooting began — and explained that his actions were meant to protect his wife.

The jury deliberated for three hours before returning a guilty verdict. Harris was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The second guilty verdict was secured in the first of five trials set to take place in connection with the killing of 21-year-old Shane Singleton during a robbery in El Campo in 2021.

Brandon James, who was 16 years old at the time, ambushed Singleton after he pulled into an unlit residential driveway on February 23, 2021, with the intention of buying a firearm. Singleton had seen an ad for the weapon on social media and had driven from Wharton to meet with the alleged buyer.

Instead, James and four others surrounded his vehicle, intending to rob him. Singleton managed to shoot one of the robbers in self-defense, but James ultimately shot him dead in the back of his head with a rifle. Although James and his co-conspirators fled the scene, all were later arrested on murder charges.

A juvenile court ruled a few months later that James would be tried as an adult due to his mature demeanor, his prior criminal record, and the high probability that he had committed the alleged offense, according to El Campo Leader-News. During his trial, the jury returned a guilty verdict after one hour of deliberation.

James was handed a life sentence but will be eligible for parole after 40 years due to his age.

In Dallas, the homicide rate grew by 15% between 2022 and 2023, according to data from the City’s crime analytics dashboard. As of March 13, a total of 41 murders had been logged in 2024, with the overwhelming majority of murder victims being black and Hispanic males.

Downtown Dallas has seen rising criminality, recently logging 60 times more motor vehicle theft than Fort Worth’s downtown area, per a comparative study by the Metroplex Civic & Business Association. Fort Worth patrols its city center with a specialized neighborhood police unit and private security guards.

The Dallas Police Department has struggled to curb crime due to an ongoing officer shortage. It fields only around 3,000 officers, although a City analysis has recommended a force of 4,000. Nonetheless, the Dallas City Council opted to budget DPD just $654 million this fiscal year, which is significantly less than the spending seen on police in other high-crime jurisdictions, such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.

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