Day 8: Longtime Onyeri friend calls him ‘jumpy’ and ‘excited’ following shooting

Crime
Sketch - Chimene Onyeri - Day 2

A longtime Houston friend of Chimene Onyeri described him as ‘jumpy’ and ‘excited’ when the two saw each other in fall 2015 after Onyeri returned from a trip to Austin.

“We were close friends,” Jonathan Franklin, said as he testified Thursday.

Franklin, who said he grew up in the same apartment complex as Onyeri and knew him when he was a teenager, recalled an evening in fall 2015 when Onyeri was “jumpy” upon returning from Austin.

“He told me he just came from Austin after taking care of business,” Franklin testified. Franklin said Onyeri’s behavior was similar to how people in the “hood” act after they did something wrong.

Franklin said he did a Google search of “Austin” later that night and every story that popped up was about a judge who had been shot. 

Franklin said Onyeri told him earlier that year that he was mad at a judge in Austin because he believed that judge was going to revoke his three years of probation and give him even more time with a seven-year jail sentence.

Onyeri is accused of orchestrating the 2015 assassination attempt of Travis County District Court Judge Julie Kocurek. At the time, Onyeri was wanted in Travis County for violating his probation in connection with a case in Kocurek’s courtroom.

Franklin’s testimony was the second day in a row that witnesses talked about Onyeri’s reaction to the shooting. On Wednesday, a former bank employee working with Onyeri recalled a text message exchanges in which Onyeri texted her, “smh,” or “shaking my head,” upon hearing the judge was alive.

Franklin faces charges of his own after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Franklin said in 2010, Onyeri loaned him a credit card skimming device. He said he used the device for three or four days at a coffee shop that he worked at, skimmed a total of three or four cards and then returned the device.

When the defense asked Franklin if it was hard for him to testify against Onyeri, he said no. The defense also asked him if he’s hoping his testimony will help him receive a lighter sentence, but Franklin pretty much said it is what it is.

Earlier during Thursday’s testimony, a federal agent spoke about several tax return checks that were issued as part of an illegal operation.

The agent, who testified for at least two hours Thursday, said he talked to between 50 and 100 individuals as part of the tax investigation, including a former bank employee in Bryan who spoke on Wednesday about her role in the operation.

Information for 15 tax return checks totaling over $15,000 was discussed, though not all of those checks appear to have been cashed.

For a $5,800 check that was cashed, the prosecution presented a flowchart detailing the operation from start to finish. It began with someone acquiring the date of birth, social security number and full name of an individual in the Harris County Juvenile Probation Office’s system.

Next, an undercover postal worker provided an address to Onyeri, who then used fictitious income and employment information to file a tax return in the juvenile’s name, according to the prosecution’s chart.

The fraudulent checks were monitored using the IRS’ “Where’s my Refund” feature and an undercover postal worker intercepted and delivered the check to Onyeri, the chart shows. Finally, Onyeri took the check to Bryan where a bank employee involved in the operation opened an account in the victim’s name.

The bank employee previously testified that she deposited $800 and handed Onyei $5,000 in cash. The employee previously testified that Onyeri was supposed to pay her for cashing the check, but he never did.

The trial will continue at 9 a.m. Monday. Follow KXAN.com for updates.

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