HOUSTON - A heinous crime in Harris County: six children and two adults handcuffed and shot in the head by another family member. David Ray Conley III faced a judge for the first time Monday, to hear the allegations behind three capital murder charges. The details are tough for anyone to stomach, including chief prosecutor Alycia Harvey.
"As a citizen of Harris County, as a mother, any time you hear about something that's this heinous, any time you hear about the death of this many children in a single event, it is hard," said Harvey.
Harris County deputies conducted a welfare check at the family's northwest Harris County home Saturday evening, after Valerie Jackson's mother received an ominous text from her daughter saying that she was in trouble--but it was too late. The entire family was dead by the time deputies arrived.
The victims were identified as parents Valerie Jackson, 40; her husband, Dwayne Jackson, 50; their children Jonah, 6; Trinity, 7; Caleb, 9; Dwayne Jr., 10; Honesty, 11; and Conley's son, Nathaniel, 13.
Conley will remain in jail without bond, facing three counts of capital murder, including the murder of a family member under the age of six. Prosecutors don't want to speculate on a motive, but Conley has an extensive rap sheet involving violent acts against family members, including an arrest on July 8 for assault with bodily injury.
District Attorney Devon Anderson says it's a 'no-brainer' for prosecutors to seek the death penalty, but the decision won't be made for another three to four months.
"The first step they have to determine is, are we going to keep the capital murder charges the way they are, or are we going to file more charges, or go forward on just a few," said Anderson, "one capital is all it takes in Texas."
This is the worst murder case in Harris County since last year, when Ron Haskel went on a rampage, killing six family members, including four children. There was one survivor; Cassidy Stay, 15.
"I didn't think the Stay family case could be beat," said Anderson, "I didn't think we'd see anything as horrifying as that, but it seems like we have now."