SHINER, Texas (AP) — A young Texas father who beat to death with his fists a man molesting his 5-year-old daughter will not be charged, authorities said Tuesday as they released a dramatic 911 tape of the dad frantically pleading for help before the hired ranch helper died.
A Lavaca County grand jury Tuesday declined to indict the 23-year-old father in the death of Jesus Mora Flores, 47. Prosecutors said the grand jury reached same conclusion as police after reviewing the evidence: The father was authorized to use deadly force to protect his daughter.
Flores was killed June 9 on a family ranch so remote that the father is heard profanely screaming at a dispatcher who couldn't locate the property.
"Come on! This guy is going to die on me!" the father yells. "I don't know what to do!"
The Associated Press is not identifying the father in order to protect the daughter's identity. The AP does not identify victims of sexual assault.
The tense, nearly five-minute 911 call begins with the father saying that he "beat up" a man found raping his daughter. The father grows increasingly frazzled, cursing and crying into the phone so loudly at times that the call often becomes inaudible.
At one point tells the dispatcher he's going to put the man in his truck and drive him to a hospital before sheriff's deputies finally arrive.
"He's going to die!" the father screams. "He's going to (expletive) die!"
V'Anne Huser, the father's attorney, sternly told reporters several times during a news conference at the Lavaca County courthouse that neither the father nor the family will ever give interviews.
"He's a peaceable soul," Huser said. "He had no intention to kill anybody that day."
The attack happened on the family's ranch off a quiet, two-lane county road between the farming towns of Shiner and Yoakum. Authorities say a witness saw Flores "forcibly carrying" the girl into a secluded area and then scrambled to find the father. Running toward his daughter's screams, investigators said, the father pulled Flores off his child and "inflicted several blows to the man's head and neck area."
Emergency crews found Flores' pants and underwear pulled down on his lifeless body by the time they responded to the 911 call. The girl was taken to a hospital and examined, and authorities say forensic evidence and witness accounts corroborated the father's story that his daughter was being sexually molested.
Although the father was never arrested, the killing was investigated as a homicide. Huser, the Lavaca County sheriff and the district attorney did not take questions during the news conference.
Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, said he would have been surprised if the grand jury had decided to indict the father. Hilder said Texas law provides several justifications for the use of deadly force, including if someone committing a sexual assault.
"The grand jury was not about to indict this father for protecting his daughter," he said.
Authorities said the family had hired Flores before to help with horses on the ranch. He was not born in the U.S. but was here legally with a green card.
On Tuesday, a new "No Trespassing" sign was freshly tacked onto a gate barring entrance down a gravelly, shrub-canopied path leading to the barn and chicken coop on the ranch. Authorities say the attack happened near the barn.
Across the street, neighbor Michael James Veit, 48, described the father as easygoing and polite — down to always first asking permission to search his property for animals that had wandered off the ranch, even though the families have long known each other.
"They won't find a jury pool here that will convict him," Veit said.
No one answered at the father's home. The front yard could pass for a children's playground: blue pinwheels sunk into patchy grass, an above-ground swimming pool, a swing set, a trampoline and a couple of ropes dangling from a tree for swinging. A partial privacy fence is painted powder blue.
A few miles away, at a home listed as belonging to the father's sister, a woman shouted through the front door that the family had nothing to say.
Veit's son was a classmate of the father's at Shiner High School in a graduating class of about two dozen. Veit said the young father was never known to be in trouble.
"Just like a regular kid, went to dances, drank beer like the rest of the kids around here," Veit said. "Never been in trouble. Never, ever. You know, I think justice is served. It's sad a man had to die, but I think anybody would have done that."
A public records search did not turn up anything for Flores.
Shiner, a town of about 2,000 people about 80 miles west of San Antonio, revolves around the Spoetzl Brewery that makes Shiner, one of the nation's best-selling independent beers. Even gas stations here sell it on tap.
Flores' death is only the sixth homicide the sheriff's department has investigated in the last eight years, and half of those killings involved one triple-murder. Shiner residents boast their squeaky-clean image on a highway welcome sign: "The Cleanest Little City in Texas."
At Werner's Restaurant, customer Gail Allen said she didn't want to speak for all of Shiner, though her comments might as well have.
"The father has gone through enough," said Allen, 59, who has nine grandchildren. "The little girl is going to be traumatized for life, and the father, too, for what happened. He was protecting his family. Any parent would do that."
Associated Press writer Juan Lozano in Houston contributed to this report.