Criminal JusticeStatewide NewsGov. Abbott Orders Investigation After Multiple Paroled Inmates Commit Murders

After two parolees wearing ankle monitors allegedly committed murders in Dallas, Gov. Abbott has ordered an investigation into “possible lapses.”
December 19, 2022
When 30-year-old Nestor Hernandez allegedly shot and killed two employees at a Dallas-area hospital this past October, he had already been twice arrested since being released on parole from the state correctional system and was still wearing an ankle monitor.

Now, Gov. Greg Abbott is ordering the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (BPP) and Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) to investigate possible lapses in the release and parole supervision of Hernandez as well as parolee Zeric Jackson, who had also been wearing an ankle monitor when he allegedly murdered a Highland Park man last month.

“In recent months two prisoners who were released on parole went on to commit brutal murders while wearing ankle monitors as a condition of their parole,” wrote Abbott in a letter to BPP Presiding Officer David Gutierrez and TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier.

“In neither case were ankle monitors an effective deterrent to the heinous crimes they committed.” continued Abbott. “Although nothing can be done to bring back these victims, Texas must protect Texas residents from similar acts.”

Although he had several prior convictions, Hernandez had successfully pled from more serious charges of aggravated robbery down to aggravated assault. He was sentenced to eight years in 2017 but was released on parole in October 2021.

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Jackson had served 17 years of his 18-year sentence for aggravated robbery when he was released on May 6 of this year, but had been previously denied parole four times.

In another incident in Harris County last month, parolee Anthony J. Garcia allegedly shot at Houston police officers after leading them in a vehicular pursuit. Sentenced to five years in 2021, Garcia had three prior felony convictions, but was released on parole in 2022 and was also wearing an ankle monitor at the time. He has been charged with two counts of attempted capital murder, felony evading arrest, and felon in possession of a weapon.

While not citing Garcia’s case, Abbott has instructed BPP and TDCJ to report on any lapses in granting parole to Hernandez and Jackson and to prepare possible legislative or administrative recommendations by January 4.

Ankle monitors are frequently assigned to suspects on bond as a condition of pretrial release. Earlier this year, police were able to identify suspects in the murder of off-duty Harris County Deputy Constable Omar Ursin due to the monitors the men wore after being released on bond.

Although criminal justice reformers have focused on pre-conviction policies to reduce incarceration, there have been some efforts to increase access to parole. During the 2021 legislative session, several Texas lawmakers unsuccessfully proposed reforms to expand the number of offenses for which inmates could earn “good conduct time” credits and allow for the release on parole of more inmates during a public health emergency.

The TDCJ has also been investigating lapses that led to a prisoner escape and the murder of five members of a Harris County family last summer, and earlier this month released a report detailing multiple procedural violations among staff.

The Texas legislative session is slated to begin on January 10, 2023, giving lawmakers ample time to consider the recommended changes to state parole procedures following the BPP and TDCJ investigation.


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Holly Hansen

Holly Hansen is a regional reporter for The Texan living in Harris County. Her former column, “All In Perspective” ran in The Georgetown Advocate, Jarrell Star Ledger, and The Hill Country News, and she has contributed to a variety of Texas digital media outlets. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida with a degree in History, and in addition to writing about politics and policy, also writes about faith and culture.