Day 2: Officers explain how they tracked down suspect in judge attack


Testimony continued Tuesday in federal court for a man accused of orchestrating the 2015 assassination attempt of Travis County District Court Judge Julie Kocurek.

The prosecution will call their witnesses first, followed by the defense’s witness list.

Chimene Onyeri appeared alongside his attorneys in plain clothes for the proceedings.

Ten witnesses testified in all Tuesday. A majority of them were law enforcement officers and/or evidence analysts who played a role in responding to the Nov. 6, 2015 attack outside Judge Kocurek’s home. 

One of the witnesses was an expert who works for the Federal Bureau of Investigations. The expert witness for the prosecution analyzed four cartridge cases submitted to the FBI’s laboratory for comparisons and determined all four casings were fired from the same firearm. 

Former Austin Police Detective Derek Israel, who recently retired from the department, testified Tuesday about the geographical span of the investigation. 

Israel said after receiving a tip that Onyeri was bragging about the shooting after the judge was attacked, “very little” of their investigation was in Austin, and largely in Houston. So, Israel said he sought the federal government’s assistance. 

The fifth witness on Tuesday was a Houston police patrol officer. The Gulf Coast Violent Offender Task Force requested the officer assist them in locating and apprehending Onyeri, who was identified as a person of interest in the attack.

According to prosecutors, during the investigation, officers learned Onyeri was traveling in a Dodge Charger and while speaking with his father in Houston, they saw a similar car drive toward the home but then turn around at the last minute. When officers pulled the vehicle over, Onyeri was in the front passenger seat; three other people were in the car with him.

Opening statements were heard Monday morning, followed by four witnesses. The first witness Monday was Will Kocurek — the judge’s then 15-year-old son who called 911. The jury listened to the emotional 911 call he placed the night of the attack.

Onyeri and two others — Marcellus Burgin and Rasul Scott — identified in court documents as his co-conspirators, were indicted in September 2016 on federal charges related to the judge’s shooting, along with a fraud and racketeering scheme the trio was accused of running.

Burgin and Scott both pleaded guilty in connection to this case, but they have not been sentenced. 

The trial will continue Wednesday at 9 a.m. with additional testimony from witnesses called by the prosecution. 

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