He Spent Four Years in Jail. Now Charges Are Dropped

Cyrus Gray, who spent four years in jail in San Marcos because he couldn’t make bail (Photo by Jana Birchum)

The capital murder case against Cyrus Gray is collapsing. On Monday, Hays County District Attorney Kelly Higgins announced that his office will ask that the charges against Gray be dismissed “pending further investigation.”

Gray, who has been accused of robbing and killing Texas State student Justin Gage in 2015, is pleased that Higgins is seeking to drop the charges. He’s not happy about the “pending further investigation” part. He wants the case dismissed “with prejudice” – the term prosecutors use when they close a case permanently.

“In my mind, the way the state is trying to dismiss this case is a cop out,” Gray told the Chronicle. “It does not mean it’s over. I would still have to live with this on my back and my name. That’s going to affect every aspect of my life. So if they’re not going to dismiss it with prejudice, I’d rather go to trial.”

Gray, a personal trainer with no criminal record, was arrested for Gage’s murder in March of 2018, along with his childhood friend, Devonte Amerson. After the arrest, he and Amerson were assigned court-appointed attorneys and began long waits in the Hays County Jail. Amerson is still incarcerated there. There has been no word from the D.A. on his case.

Chronicle readers will remember that Gray has already faced a trial for Gage’s murder, in the summer of 2022. The trial revealed that Hays County had poor evidence against him, especially considering the gravity of the charges – no eyewitnesses, video, fingerprints, or DNA connected Gray or Amerson to the murder. The jury was deadlocked for four days before the proceedings were declared a mistrial, when several jurors came down with COVID. Gray was released on bond four months later.

Higgins’ announcement came nine days before he was scheduled to retry Gray and three days before Gray asked District Judge Bruce Boyer to throw out the charges on the grounds that he has been denied a speedy trial. Gray believes there’s a chance Boyer will grant the request. “At the end of the day, that is the only way for this to be done with,” Gray said. “For me to be found not guilty or for this to be dismissed with prejudice.”

Gray and the San Marcos advocates who have helped bring attention to his case are concerned that Amerson remains behind bars. Only last month, the D.A.’s Office offered Amerson a 15-year sentence to testify against Gray, as the Chronicle learned from Devonte’s mother, Chelesta Amerson. She said her son rejected the offer right away.

“We commend the D.A.’s office for making the correct choice in not proceeding with another trial against Cyrus, but we will not consider this a victory until the charges against both Cyrus and Devonte have been dropped conclusively and a serious effort is made to properly investigate Justin Gage’s killing,” said Amy Kamp of the social justice group Mano Amiga.

Kamp sat through Gray’s 2022 trial and heard testimony from San Marcos detectives about other suspects in Gage’s killing. “SMPD really botched this case,” she said. “So are they going to get serious about investigating the murder and looking into the other suspects? Because Justin Gage’s family deserves justice.”

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