x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Texas teen accused of Emirati's murder faces death

One of the two teenagers arrested in connection with the killing of an Emirati army officer in the US could face the death penalty if convicted.

The entrance to the San Marin apartment complex, where Salem Saif Al Mazroui was killed while trying to help his father escape from armed intruders. One of the two teenagers arrested in connection with his murder could face the death penalty.
The entrance to the San Marin apartment complex, where Salem Saif Al Mazroui was killed while trying to help his father escape from armed intruders. One of the two teenagers arrested in connection with his murder could face the death penalty.

HOUSTON, TEXAS // One of the two men accused of shooting dead an Emirati army captain had already been arrested this year on a serious weapons charge.

Detone Lewayne Price, 18, and Corey Trevon Perry, 17, both from Houston, Texas, are charged with the capital murder of Salem Saif Al Mazroui.

It is the most serious murder charge under Texas law. If convicted, Mr Price would be eligible for the death penalty but Mr Perry would not because he is under 18.

Mr Price has been charged with three other crimes this year. In February, he was charged with aggravated robbery using a deadly weapon, and unauthorised use of a motor vehicle. While in jail on that offence, he was charged with having stolen a laptop and cash in January.

Mr Price was free on bail when he was arrested on August 10 for the murder of Captain Al Mazroui.

Mr Perry has no arrests as an adult. Any criminal history before he turned 17 is not on public record.

The two are being held in separate Harris County jails in line with a court order made on August 18. They will remain separate during transport to and from the court. Prosecutors would not say why the two were being kept apart.

Mr Price will appear tomorrow at the Harris County 178th criminal district court. Mr Perry will appear at the same court on October 13.

According to the criminal complaint, Captain Al Mazroui, 28, and his father arrived at their apartment in the San Marin complex in south-west Houston at about 10.30pm on August 7. Mr Al Mazroui went inside while his son waited in the car.

Soon after, Mr Perry and Mr Price forced their way inside with Captain Al Mazroui and locked the door behind them.

Mr Perry had a gun and was threatening both of them, but Mr Al Mazroui told police he did not understand what the two young men were saying, according to the complaint.

He told police Mr Perry kept armed watch over him and his son while Mr Price, who was unarmed, searched them and their apartment for valuables.

Mr Al Mazroui said Mr Price searched him first. When Mr Price moved to search Captain Al Mazroui, his father rushed to the door to try to escape.

He was able to unlock and open the door before Mr Price tried to stop him. Captain Al Mazroui rushed to help his father escape.

Mr Al Mazroui Sr told police he was able to get outside, but heard two or three shots and saw his son fall to the ground.

Captain Al Mazroui was taken to Ben Taub General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

According to the complaint, Mr Price and Mr Perry then drove away in the Al Mazrouis' car, which had been left running. It was later found abandoned.

Evidence found in the car led to the arrest of the two teenagers and Mr Al Mazroui picked Mr Perry out of a photo lineup.

Capital murder charges can be filed when murder is committed in the course of a robbery. It is punishable by death.

Texas has executed more inmates than any other US state since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

Donna Hawkins, of the Harris County district attorney's public information office, said the district attorney would decide whether to pursue the death penalty as the trial progressed.

Jury selection for Mr Price's trial requires a "death-qualified" panel, the members of which are not categorically opposed to capital punishment, but who also would consider life imprisonment in a capital murder case.

If the jury does not find beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr Perry and Mr Price are guilty of capital murder, they may still be convicted of murder or a lesser offence.

Captain Al Mazroui's body was returned to the UAE on August 11. Family members took his body from Dubai International Airport to his hometown of Adhen in Ras Al Khaimah, where he was buried on August 12.

His father had been receiving cancer treatment at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

newsdesk@thenational.ae