AUSTIN (KXAN) — A homeless man who killed another homeless person in northeast Austin last year was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to probation last week.
Police say on June 5, 2016, John Mouton, 23, got into a fight with another man over drugs and a possible stolen cellphone. A witness told officers at the time the victim threw the suspect’s bags off of a bridge and into water as the two got into a scuffle at the homeless camp. Mouton then put the victim in a “chokehold,” killing him. Others said they thought the victim was faking his injuries and the victim was left on the sidewalk.
Ann Howard, the executive director of ECHO, an agency that works on ending homelessness in Austin, says unfortunately, crimes like Mouton’s are common in the homeless community.
“The homeless population is very susceptible to crime. They are often caring all of their precious possessions, sometimes that’s medication, sometimes it’s whatever cash they have, sometimes it’s a picture,” Howard says.
Mouton, who was originally charged with murder, was sentenced to probation. Howard fears if Mouton is left without housing, it could put him back into a cycle.
“Probation needs to do its job with sort of checking in and connecting him to services, it’s not all on homeless service providers, that’s a whole other system,” Howard says. “They might have to make a daily physical check in with the probation officer, it might be a phone call, but it’s a little bit ridiculous when they don’t have housing.”
“We are pleased that a Travis County jury held the defendant accountable for his actions, and that he will have the chance to make amends for his crime in the community under the watchful eyes of the probation department,” said Prosecutor Victoria Winkler in a statement.