HOUSTON—One hour after the Aug. 26 robbery and fatal shooting inside a Denny’s restaurant on Washington Avenue police briefly had three of the suspects in custody. But at the time it was for an unrelated incident and officers had no information that the three young men might be connected to the murder of a Denny’s customer.
The details, released in court documents filed over the weekend, identify brothers Mario and Corey Hilton, along with Leroy Houston and Kenya Jackson as the four young men involved in the robbery. Police have identified Mario, 18, as the getaway driver that night.
Jackson, 20, is the final suspect who has not been caught. The other three are in jail. All four have been charged with capital murder.
Investigators said a friend of the suspects has told police the four were involved and that they have talked openly about the robbery and the murder of customer Greg Placette, 64. Witnesses said Placette jumped from his seat at the Denny’s when the gunmen pointed a gun at a child.
Police said they don’t know yet which of the gunmen fired the fatal shots, or which of the men fired on and injured a Denny’s employee.
Court documents indicate that police were called to the 5300 block of Coke Street an hour after the shooting. A woman reported she had been involved in a minor hit-and-run accident and identified a vehicle driven by Mario Hilton, a vehicle different than the van reportedly used in the Denny’s robbery. Police reports say officers caught the Hilton brothers and Kenya Jackson crawling out of an apartment window. All three were detained.
Each has a prior criminal record. But only Corey Hilton was arrested because he has a prior felony conviction and police found him in possession of a .40 caliber handgun. He posted bond and was released from jail.
Days later police say a source came forward identifying the men as the Denny’s robbers. Court documents indicate that’s when police made a connection to the hit-and-run incident.
Prosecutors said evidence they have since found in the apartment appears to link the men to the Denny’s murder.
“A lot of the outfits that were captured on surveillance video of the capital murder taking place matched the description of items recovered from the apartment,” said prosecutor Cameron Calligan.
“I’m so glad that these guys have been caught. I hope the fourth guy gets caught,” said Jonathan Ochoa who was with his friend Greg Placette when he was shot. “Just for the safety of everyone that’s doing things right in this world, you just don’t want someone out there that’s involved with anything like this. You want them behind bars for sure.”
There is a reward for information leading to the arrest of the final suspect, Kenya Jackson. If you can help with the investigation call Houston Police or Crimestoppers at 713-222-TIPS.