FORT WORTH — A suspended TCU student previously jailed for tampering with evidence following the fatal overdose of the grandson of billionaire oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens has been indicted in the 21-year-old’s death.
A Tarrant County grand jury returned four indictments against Brennan Trainor Rodriguez on Friday: one count of felony murder, a second count of manslaughter, a third count of tampering with evidence and a fourth count of delivering a controlled substance which resulted in death.
Thomas Boone Pickens, who went by Ty, died after being rushed to a Fort Worth hospital on January 29. The medical examiner later ruled his cause of death a heroin overdose. He attended school at Texas Christian University.
The affidavit alleges that Rodriguez injected him with heroin, which caused his death.
But some defense attorneys say if prosecutors move ahead with a full murder case, instead of just pursuing lessor charges, it will be pivotal they clearly lay out evidence that actually adds up to murder.
"If they feel like you're piling on, the jury will punish you for that, they will," said Navid Alband, a former Tarrant County prosecutor.
Rodriguez, 21, was first arrested on March 11 after his cousin provided a written statement indicating that he hid drugs and paraphernalia –– spoons, syringes, cotton swabs, heroin, Xanax and marijuana brownies –– in a maintenance closet across from his apartment in the 1800 block of Rogers Road after Pickens was taken to the hospital.
Investigators charged Rodriguez with tampering with evidence and he was soon released on $5,000 bond. He has not been arrested again, according to the county's jail roster.
The cousin, Andrew Tittle, also told police that he saw Rodriguez inject Pickens with heroin. Pickens was found unconscious the following morning. Tittle alleged that his cousin ordered him to drive Pickens to the hospital while he hid the drugs.
If convicted, Rodriguez faces up to life in prison for the murder charge, up to 20 years in prison on the count of manslaughter and up to 10 years in prison on each of the other two counts.
Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Melody McDonald declined further comment, citing the pending case. TCU spokeswoman Lisa Albert said Rodriguez was suspended prior to the indictments pending a hearing through the university's disciplinary channels.
"He is not currently enrolled in classes and is not a student," she said.
A Pickens family spokesperson said in a statement, “We are grateful that the Tarrant County Grand Jury has taken the first step in holding Brennan Rodriguez responsible for his role in the death of Ty Pickens. Ty was not a heroin user or addict and we believe that the justice system will reveal the truth of what happened that unfortunate night of January 28, 2013.”