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Departure from El Paso District Attorney’s Office may delay long-awaited murder trial

EL PASO, Texas-- The trial of a man accused of a murder in 2017 may be delayed even further. 

Assistant District Attorney Rene Flores announced in Judge Marcos Lizarraga‘s courtroom during a hearing Tuesday morning that his last day in the office will be Friday, Sept. 23. 

Flores made the announcement during a pre-trial hearing for Tristan Chilton. 

Chilton is one of five people accused of the murder of former Army soldier Tyler Croke on May 5, 2017.

The docket for this case shows that the jury trial for Chilton, who is facing a charge of capital murder, was set for October 13, 2022. 

He’s been held in the El Paso County Jail since his arrest shortly after Croke’s murder more than five years ago. The murder suspect appeared in court Tuesday wearing an orange and white-striped inmate jumpsuit and thick black glasses. 

“I do not know who will be taking over this case. It may affect our timeline,” Flores told the court. “Because of that, plus knowing the amount of evidence in the case, I don’t think they’ll be ready for the October trial.”

Flores told ABC-7 after the hearing, he is unsure whether the case would be assigned to someone already employed with the DA’s office or a newly hired attorney. 

Judge Lizárraga of the 168th District Court said he would need Flores to file for a continuance in order to make a decision on whether to delay the case further. 

“I know your office is under an extraordinary number of issues,” Lizarraga said, adding, “The most important thing is justice be done.”

This is the latest delay in a case prolonged by the number of alleged perpetrators, the COVID-19 pandemic and the administrative shift in the District Attorney’s Office. 

It’s also another ding on the already bruised DA’s office, which is dealing with additional issues ranging from a feud over the handling of the Walmart shooting case to a petition to remove DA Yvonne Rosales from office.

The murder of Tyler Croke was profiled in the ABC-7 Borderland Crimes podcast.

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Stephanie Valle

Stephanie Valle co-anchors ABC-7 at 5, 6 and 10 weeknights.


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