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8 homicides were reported in Port Arthur in 2019; Nederland had 1

The city of Port Arthur saw a total of eight confirmed homicides, and officers are working two other cases of suspicious deaths. Nederland police also worked a homicide case last year.

Authorities in Port Neches and Groves did not report any killings in 2019.

Port Arthur’s 2019 homicide total is a substantial drop from the previous year when 14 lives were lost to violence.

Some of the homicides — categorized as the deliberate and unlawful killing of one person by another — have led to arrests while others remain unsolved.

Here’s a look at the victims:

  • Feb. 24 — Aletha Gonzalez, 34, was killed by blunt force trauma on her birthday at a home in the 2100 block of Birch Street.

The accused is her boyfriend Daniel Shackelford, 34, of Port Arthur, who remains in jail on a $500,000 bond.

Court documents show Shackelford called 911 to his home on Birch Street, saying he came home and found Gonzalez down with a television on top of her. But police said her injuries were consistent with an assault. An autopsy showed she died from blunt force trauma to the head.

  • March 11 — Devonte Demarcus Gilliam, 19, was shot to death while at a friend’s apartment at Cedar Ridge Apartments, 7631 Ninth Ave.

Public information provided from police has been sparse. Authorities speculate there were at least two other people at the apartment during the shooting but still have not released whether they believe the shooting was accidental or intentional. Earlier this year a detective with the Port Arthur Police Department said they were waiting for the ballistics report connected to the case.

Gilliam suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen and was brought to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont but died shortly after arrival.

  • April 1 — Javier Palacios Jr., 22, was found dead, shot multiple times in an alley in the 1000 block of Delaware Drive.

A known member of the Sureño 13 street gang, Palacios was sought by police on two warrants and was a suspect in the March 23 shooting of a man just two blocks from where his body was found. The victim in the March 23 shooting lost his leg, police said.

Police knew Palacios had friends and enemies, and in a press conference in late March announced they were searching for him and had hoped to capture him for the sake of the citizens and for his own safety.

There have been no arrests in the case as of late December.

  • May 22 — Jermaine “Doonda” Delahoussaye Jr., 16, was shot to death outside Short Stop Convenience Store, 2248 Gulfway Drive.

Ashton Jherimiah Robertson, 21, was charged with tampering with physical evidence because he reportedly removed evidence from the crime scene. Police do not believe the victim knew Robertson.

  • July 19 — Joel Lopez Martinez, 42, was shot to death during a robbery at a home in the 3200 block of 18th Street.

Early reports showed the call came in as a possible drive-by shooting but was later discerned to be an armed robbery. Police at the scene were told two men approached a man at the back of a home and demanded money. Another man came outside the home and was also confronted.

During the altercation the man that was first confronted — Martinez — was shot while trying to flee and the other man who had stepped outside the home was struck with a pistol and suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Martinez was brought to a local hospital, where he died.

In early August police released information saying a 2012 black Nissan Altima with paper tags was last seen leaving the area after the killing and there were at least two black males inside. Police said the vehicle frequents the Stonegate Apartments on Turtle Creek Drive.

No arrests have been made as of late December.

  • Sept. 9 — Charles Sartin, 81, of Sabine Pass was beat to death at a home in the 5300 block of Tremont Street. His daughter, Kelli Sartin, 53, was arrested and charged with the homicide and bond set at $1 million.

The case appeared odd from the beginning — police received a call that Kelli Sartin had made alarming statements about her father’s welfare and when police arrived she was there. She told police she had found her father dead and he had committed suicide by hitting himself with a metal spatula and a wooden rolling pin on Sept. 4.

Inside the home the victim’s body was found wrapped in bedding and a tarp in the bedroom. The daughter said she thoroughly cleaned the home with bleach and taped the bedroom door shut with duct tape, according to court documents.

Jefferson County Assistant District Attorney Cory Kneeland said it is believed the victim had been dead for four-and-a-half days before police arrived.

The victim’s body had wounds on the head and upper torso that appeared consistent with blunt force.

Kelli Sartin later made a statement to police about her father’s death before being taken to county lockup that same day, arrested for murder.

She was later indicated for the crime. An indictment is not a final conviction of guilt; it is only a ruling by the grand jury that allows the district attorney’s office to proceed with a criminal case.

  • Oct. 9 — Jamica Thibo, 40, was riding his bicycle in the 3000 block of Savannah Avenue when a man driving a white Dodge Ram struck and killed him.

Security video from neighboring Motiva shows Thibo riding down Savannah, crossing over 25th Street and continuing toward the highway but he never made it.

The truck that hit him can be seen pulling over and the driver getting out to survey damage. Police believe he knew he had hit a person but instead left the scene and the body of Thibo behind.

The suspect’s vehicle was ditched and found abandoned at Timber Creek Apartments.

Police at the time were searching for Charles Nicholas Lock, 32, on a probation violation. Lock is also a person of interest in the fatal hit and run of Thibo.

  • Oct. 11 — Gerald Taylor, 24, of Port Arthur was stabbed to death at Pebble Creek Apartments, 425 Jimmy Johnson Blvd. Amesty Smith, 23, was arrested for the homicide and family said she was Taylor’s girlfriend.

She remains in jail on a $125,000 bond.

  • Deshandric Clayton 23, was shot to death at Avery Trace Apartments. The shooting happened in a breezeway of the complex located at 4260 F 365. Police announced a person of interest early on but no additional information was made available.

The complex has been the scene of violent crimes in the past; some of which include the 2018 shooting death of Joseph Boudreaux, 25, and the 2017 shooting death of Javonte Jack, 20.

  • Just two days later, on Oct. 20, Jasmine Newman, 22, was shot to death — an innocent person at a party. Police were called to the 1100 block of Vicksburg from someone who heard multiple gunshots. Officers arrived and found four people sustained gunshot wounds and Newman dead at the scene having suffered multiple gunshots.

Police said Newman was an innocent bystander and a mother of two. She had no police record.

A 2015 graduate of Memorial High School, Newman had goals for the future. She wanted to work as a prison guard to provide more for her children.

At the height of the party she was attending there were up to 50 people in attendance, and by the time the shooting occurred only seven were standing outside getting ready to leave.

Nederland homicide

Nederland suffered one homicide in 2019 — the shooting death of Joshua Caleb Miller, 34, at Briarcliff Apartments on May 29.

Nederland police were called to the complex about an altercation that night and found the victim dead from a gunshot wound to the back.

According to police, witnesses saw three men go into an apartment at about 6 p.m., an argument broke out and one of the men went back outside and got a gun from a car and went back in. After that neighbor reportedly heard a gunshot, all three men left the apartment.

Jonathan Loya, then 20, turned himself in to police. He was later indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury.

If you have information about any of these crimes you may call the Port Arthur Police Department at 983-8600 or Crime Stoppers of Southeast Texas at 409-833-TIPS. You won’t be asked your name and you may be eligible for a cash reward. You can also make an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers by downloading the P3 Tips app on your smartphone.