HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — The man accused of shooting and killing a Houston police sergeant in November 2020 was found not guilty.
Soliz was charged with murder. He’s accused of killing Sgt. Sean Rios in what then-HPD Chief Art Acevedo described as a gun battle.
Jurors, comprised of five women and eight men, were sent to deliberate Tuesday morning in Robert Soliz’s trial. About seven hours later, they reached a verdict. Soliz showed visible relief and mouthed the words, “I told you so.”
Rios’ family broke down into tears and held each other.
“They’re extremely disappointed. They’re in shock, as they should be, as we all are,” Douglas Griffith, president of the Houston Police Officer’s Union, said. “I ask the citizens of Harris County to keep them (Sgt. Rios’ family) in their prayers because this will be difficult for them. Four children have to grow up without a dad.”
The trial had several starts and stops.
It began July 26 through 28 but then had to be postponed as a defense attorney dealt with a health issue and a juror later tested positive for COVID-19.
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The trial resumed on Aug. 22 until an emergency health situation, again with an attorney, led to its recess until Nov. 7.
The trial resumed Tuesday morning for closing arguments.
The defense has claimed self-defense, as there have been questions about whether Rios identified himself as a police officer.
“I’m greatly relieved because this should have never happened. They did not have a shred of evidence that this was more than self-defense,” defense attorney Paul Looney told ABC13. “They put this man and his family through hell for two years. But I’m relieved because the damage wasn’t for life because it could have been life.”
Looney and his partner are planning a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
“We are deeply disappointed with the verdict in this case, and we saw the evidence differently than the jury, and though we cannot agree with the jury’s decision, we appreciate their time and service. Our hearts remain with Sean Rios’s widow and four children, who will now grow up without their father,” David Mitcham, first assistant of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, said in a statement. “Officer Rios spent his time here on Earth serving and protecting the people of Houston, and he gave his life in that noble effort. He will always be remembered for the hero that he was.”
For now, Soliz remains in jail, still facing drug and aggravated assault charges from two previous and unrelated shootings. He was also charged in September with having a prohibited substance, marijuana, while in jail.
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