Family of slain ETX teen decries delay of justice due to COVID-19, lack of jurors

Crime

JOAQUIN, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – The family of an East Texas teenager is demanding justice after he was shot and killed in February.

Five months after 16-year-old Angel De La Rosa was shot and killed by a friend who said it was an accident, the case has not gone to a grand jury and his older sister Tomasa says it feels like a slap in the face.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office charged Heston Avery, then 17 years old, with criminally negligent homicide.

“It is a difficult thing to deal with he is walking free, people have seen him and they come to tell us, he has driven by our house many times, he has actually visited the neighbor’s who live across the street multiple times. So it’s been really hard to accept that he is walking like nothing ever happened and moving on with his life like he didn’t take a life,” said Tomasa De La Rosa.

Angel’s sister says they have been given four different court dates that keep getting moved.

“Due to COVID, they have given jurors the option to not attend if they don’t feel safe, so they haven’t been able to get enough people. They need at least nine jurors.”

Negligent homicide carries a maximum of two years behind bars.

The family wants to use the grand jury as a way to upgrade Avery’s charge to manslaughter, which carries a 20-year prison sentence.

“Something that fits the crime. He took a life someone who had goals and dreams and a very ambitious and determined young man who was going to do a lot with his life and he took that away from not just us but everybody.”

The De La Rosa family says they want justice to be served.

“He was going to be the first to actually graduate high school on time. That was something we were all looking forward to especially him. He was going to go back to play football this year. We had some big plans this upcoming year that now we have to deal with the harsh reality that they just won’t be happening,” said De La Rosa.

Heston Avery is out on a $10,000 bond.

The Shelby County District Attorney Office has not responded to requests for comment.

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