HOUSTON – Three teens accused of killing a homeless man for a dollar appeared in court Wednesday morning.
Carlos Fernandez, 18; Marilyn Villarreal, 18; and Michael Correa, 17, all went before a judge on capital murder charges.
Houston police said Fernandez, Villarreal, Correa and a 16-year-old female were cruising the Hempstead Highway, looking for prostitutes to rob on April 4, 2012, when they came across 32-year-old Pedro Miguel Rosales Ramos, a homeless man.
A witness said he heard Ramos arguing with someone in a parking lot in the 11700 block of Hempstead Highway, moments before shots rang out.
Ramos suffered a gunshot wound to the chest and died at the scene.
Investigators said they initially believed the suspects killed Ramos over a bicycle or some chicken, but later determined that the motive was the $1 in cash that Ramos was carrying.
The suspects were identified days later, when police said the 16-year-old and Fernandez were involved in a home invasion. During that crime, police said the girl was shot, and Fernandez – her boyfriend – shot the homeowner. Both the teen and the homeowner survived.
During interrogation, investigators said the other suspects in Ramos’ murder were identified.
Police said Fernandez confessed to shooting Ramos. The 16-year-old reportedly said she fired a weapon that night, too, but no one was hit.
Villarreal confessed to driving the car used in the robbery, and Correa admitted to being armed and taking Ramos’ dollar, police said. Investigators said Villarreal and Correa are in a relationship and have a 1-year-old child together.
Investigators believe the young suspects are responsible for more than a dozen other home invasions and robberies in Harris County.
But police were surprised by their actions. Investigators said the teens, who were all at one point students at Jersey Village High School, came from good families.
Det. Fil Waters described the 16 year-old’s cozy surroundings at the time of her arrest.
"She’s sitting in a queen-size feather bed, watching her 32-inch plasma TV and living in the lap of luxury," Waters said.
Police said none of the suspects has shown remorse.
"There were some tears, but not for Pedro – for themselves," Waters said.
Fernandez, Correa and Villarreal were being held in the Harris County Jail without bond Wednesday. The 16-year-old, who is also charged with capital murder, was in the custody of Harris County Juvenile Probation authorities.