Houston man indicted for murder in shooting death of 9-year-old Arlene Alvarez in 2022

A Harris County grand jury indicted a Houston man Tuesday in connection with the fatal shooting of 9-year-old Arlene Alvarez in 2022.

Tony Earls Jr., 33, was indicted for murder in the shooting death of Alvarez.

RELATED: Special prosecutor appointed in murder case of 9-year-old Arlene Alvarez two years after her death in SE Houston

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

According to police, Alvarez was struck by a bullet while riding in the back of her family’s truck. Alvarez was rushed to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where she later died.

Earls was at the Chase Bank at the intersection of Winkler and Woodridge when he was robbed at gunpoint at 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 14. After the robbery, Earls fired his handgun at the robber, who was running away from him.

At the same time, the Alvarez family were driving past the bank in their pickup when Earls fired several shots into the truck, killing the child.

SEE ALSO: Family of Arlene Alvarez says they will continue to fight for justice despite grand jury declining to indict man accused of fatally shooting 9-year-old

Police said that Earls did not initially know he had struck the child until he went home and called to report the robbery. Earls was initially charged with aggravated assault-serious bodily injury.

But when a Harris County grand jury failed to indict him in July 2022, he was released. Ogg assigned special prosecutor Warren Diepraam to reexamine the case. Diepraam called in an FBI firearms expert to examine the physical evidence 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.”

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

RELATED: Family of Arlene Alvarez says they’ve fallen victim to multiple thefts, burglaries since death of 9-year-old

About the Author

Holly joined the KPRC 2 digital team in March 2024, leveraging her eight years of expertise in blogging and digital content to share her passion for Houston. Outside of work, she enjoys exploring the city's vibrant scenes, all while balancing her roles as a wife and mother to two toddlers.

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