Hays County Sets Trial Date for Man Stuck in Jail for Five Years

Cyrus Gray’s murder case was dropped; why not Devonte Amerson’s?

Devonte Amerson has spent five years in jail without a trial (Courtesy of Devonte Amerson)

Two weeks ago, the Hays County District Attorney’s office dismissed capital murder charges against Cyrus Gray, one of two men who spent years in jail awaiting trials over the 2015 murder of Texas State student Justin Gage.

When the D.A. announced the decision, Gray’s supporters believed that the capital murder charges against Devonte Amerson – the man prosecutors accused of committing the murder alongside Gray – would also be dropped. That has not happened. A murder trial for Amerson has now been set for Oct. 16. This has observers wondering: If the evidence against Gray wasn’t good enough to put him on trial, does the state have better evidence against Amerson?

“The allegation has always been that Devonte and Cyrus committed this crime together,” said Amy Kamp, founder of Hays County Jail Advocates (and a former Chronicle editor). “So why is it that they’re willing to let Cyrus walk free and they’re proceeding with a trial against Devonte? If they think they’re guilty they should try both of them. And if they think that they’re not guilty they need to stop wasting taxpayer money – and years of Devonte’s life – and drop it.”

By “years of Devonte’s life,” Kamp is referring to the five-years-and-counting that Amerson has spent in the Hays County Jail waiting for his day in court. He’s been incarcerated since March 3, 2018. According to his mother, Chelesta, Amerson was offered a 15-year sentence in June to testify against Gray but turned the offer down flat. Amerson, in a recently rejected motion to the court, claims that prosecutors responded by asking how many years he would accept to testify against Gray, and that he again rebuffed them. The charges against Gray were dropped weeks later.

The evidence presented at Gray’s original 2022 trial, which ended in a mistrial, was scant. It consisted mainly of cell phone records putting Gray and Amerson within 10 miles of Gage’s killing and the testimony of a friend of Gray’s, who said he was told about a robbery gone wrong. What prosecutors didn’t have was evidence putting the gun that killed Gage in either man’s hand (and the gun itself has never been found). A San Marcos detective admitted that law enforcement did not know who had pulled the trigger. And there was no DNA, fingerprint, or eyewitness evidence demonstrating that the pair were ever in the apartment where the murder took place.

So, has the D.A.’s office gathered better evidence for Amerson’s trial? “State bar rules against extrajudicial comments will not allow us to answer your question or make any comment at this time,” Hays County assistant district attorney Gregg Cox told the Chronicle. Amerson’s attorney, Paul Evans, was similarly circumspect. Evans said he looks forward to trying the case, but in court, not in the press.

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