HOUSTON—Detectives are looking back in time, finding killers in cases that have been cold for decades. But some of the suspects who are caught never have to stand trial.
Luis Arriazola was beaten to death with a baseball bat on June 13, 1980.
Within hours, HPD determined named Jorge Norvaez as the suspect, but he was nowhere to be found.
"All we want is for him to pay for what he did for my father," said Nancy Santana.
Just a few months ago, the family said they received a phone call from the Harris County District Attorney’s Fugitive Apprehension Squad, saying that Norvaez had been caught.
The family thought justice was finally going to happen. But last month, the suspect’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss the murder charge, because for 31 years he claims no one pursued his client.
At a church in the Heights, victims’ rights advocate Andy Kahan recently explained the motion to a group called Parents of Murdered Children.
"If there is no attempt made to apprehend them, the defense attorney can file what’s called a ‘right to speedy trial,’ or, in fact, there was no effort made to take him into custody," he said.
It’s a statute that has worked in recent months, allowing four accused killers to be set free.
"As we all know in this room here, the defendants get all the rights," Kahan said.
Arriazola’s family said they’ve learned that lesson the hard way.
"There has got to be a way to get around this one thing," Matilda Arriazola said.
District Attorney Pat Lykos told KHOU 11 News that, despite the setbacks, she is not going to disband her fugitive apprehensive squad and plans to appeal the four murder cases that were dismissed.
She said her office is working with all law-enforcement agencies to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future.
Outside the courtroom last week, KHOU 11 News joined Arriazola’s family before the motion was heard.
Norvaez showed up, too.
"That’s the man that killed my father. You need to go to prison," Santana said.
Norvaez said nothing.
In a matter of minutes, the hearing was rescheduled for April 4.
For now, Santana and her sister said their lives will remain on hold.
"And I will be here ‘til it’s over with. I am not going to stop until we get justice for my father," Santana said.