A 23-year-old father in Texas who fatally beat a man he claims he caught raping his daughter will not face any charges despite his act being labeled a homicide by officials. The father's case attracted wide attention, with many observers expressing support for the man's actions.
A grand jury in Lavaca County decided Tuesday against issuing charges against the unidentified father, said to be a rancher, for beating to death 47-year-old Jesus Mora Flores, whom he allegedly caught pant-less on top of his 5-year-old daughter.
The announcement was made yesterday afternoon in a news conference held by the Lavaca County district attorney and the local sheriff, who played a five-minute recording of the father's 911 call in which he is heard pleading for help for the alleged assailant and even crying at times.
The local sheriff's department said in its report that the father was preparing food during a get-together Saturday, June 9 at his ranch in Shiner, about 130 miles from Houston, when someone notified him that Flores, an acquaintance and farm hand, had forcibly taken his daughter to a secluded area.
The father, described as a "peaceable soul" by his attorney, immediately went in search of the young girl and reportedly heard her screams before allegedly finding Flores with his pants and underwear down on top of the girl.
The young man pulled the alleged rapist off the child and began beating him in the head and neck. The Associated Press reports that he "inflicted several blows to the man's head and neck area." Flores, suffering from "blunt force head and neck injury," was declared dead at the scene by a justice of the peace, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The 5-year-old girl was taken to a hospital and examined, with doctors verifying that she had indeed been sexually assaulted.
Investigators had insisted that all the evidence seemed to verify the father's claims. Although he had not been arrested, the case had been labeled a homicide.
"He was protecting his daughter and I don't think he knew that the individual would die. He was just doing what he thought he had to do to protect his daughter," Lavaca County Sheriff Micah Harmon had previously said.
Harmon described the case as "very traumatizing on the child, her father and his entire family."
Philip Hilder, a criminal defense attorney in Houston, told The Associated Press that there was very little chance the grand jury would have indicted the father, as Texas has several allowances in the law for use of deadly force.
Last week, as the father's case made headlines, much of the public weighed in expressing sympathy for the man and saying he had done the right thing.
The case attracted such strong responses that Fox News polled its readers, asking them to weigh in on the father's actions. Of the 66,631 votes recorded last Wednesday, 87.89 percent (58,564 votes) agreed with the statement: "He was protecting his daughter, plain and simple. I'd shake his hand." Another 8.84 percent (5,887 votes) agreed with the statement: "Can anyone judge the emotions that drove this poor father?" Only 1,666 readers (2.5 percent) thought, despite their empathy, that the rancher father acted as "judge and executioner."