Williamson County charges still possible in connection to Tonya Bates’ homicide

Crime

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — As the federal trial for a man accused of kidnapping two sisters from their Round Rock home in December 2017 continues in downtown Austin, questions remain about whether the defendant could face any additional charges related to the murder of the girls’ mother, Tonya Bates.

Although the teenage daughter testified she believes Terry Allen Miles, 45, murdered Bates after hearing the two argue on Dec. 29, 2017, no charges have been filed in Williamson County related to the homicide. The federal trial only addresses the kidnapping charge for which an Amber Alert was issued. 

According to the Round Rock Police Department, Miles is still considered a person of interest in Bates’ homicide. 

BACKGROUND: What we know about Terry Miles, man accused of abducting Round Rock girls

Both Round Rock PD and the Williamson County District Attorney’s Office tell KXAN they are closely and carefully monitoring the federal trial. Meanwhile, police are focused on collecting evidence for the possibility of presenting their own case to the DA. 

“Even after the [federal] trial, we’ll continue to pursue the homicide of Tonya Bates and as we continue to collect evidence and get all our evidence in, we will work closely with the district attorney’s office to determine if any other or further charges will be levied against Terry Miles, or any other person that we feel that is involved in this homicide,” Round Rock Police Chief Allen Banks explained. 

To anyone wondering why this case has taken so long on the local level, Chief Banks added, “There’s a lot going on behind the scenes to include that DNA evidence that is taking a long time to get back to us, additional evidence that we’re looking at, and we also have our two victims who were juveniles, and we had to wait on their testimony, as well.” 

District Attorney Shawn Dick says it’s still undetermined at this point whether they will move forward with homicide charges against Miles, regardless of whether he is convicted of the current charges he’s facing in federal court. 

“If we have the ability to hold someone accountable for a murder, that’s something we definitely want to do. We also do have the responsibility to evaluate what type of evidence do we have, how many resources do we want to devote to a case if someone is serving a life sentence? So, all that just has to be evaluated over time, but certainly we’re going to take it very seriously and evaluate everything before reaching a conclusion or a decision about how we want to move forward,” Dick said. 

He adds that up to five personnel from his office — investigators and lawyers — have been working closely on the investigation since the case began. 

“It’s only through that case and that investigation, that we’re learning more information that might make it possible for us to prosecute the cases on the state side,” he said. 

Miles is accused of kidnapping two girls, ages 7 and 14, from their Round Rock home in the final days of December 2017. They were found safe in Colorado. The girls’ mother was found dead in the home on Dec. 31 while they were missing.

Federal prosecutors argue that Miles was having regular sexual activity with the then 14-year-old girl and argued that he killed the girl’s mother before taking her and her sister to Colorado.

On Dec. 29, 2017, they told jurors in their opening statement that Miles and Bates got into an argument and he blugeoned her to death. In a panic, prosecutors say Miles hastily packed up, then fled Round Rock in the middle of the night with the girls in their mother’s vehicle.

The federal government argues the kidnapping came as a result of Miles killing the girls’ mother. 

The defense argues it was Bates’ “high-risk lifestyle” that exposed her and her daughters to serious danger. The defense alleges that Bates was selling her body — putting out advertisements for sex — and said she had “many, many sexual encounters with strangers.” 

Attorneys for Miles said that from time to time, Bates told Miles and the girls to leave the home so she could have sex there. That’s what they say happened on Dec. 29, 2017, arguing that when they returned home, they found Bates dead and in an effort to escape present danger, they fled to Colorado. 

If convicted on the federal kidnapping charges, Miles faces between 20 years and life in federal prison, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

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