Trial over Houston poker party murder begins
Four years after he coldly murdered a 45-year-old father of two during a botched poker game robbery, Eric Norris is finally appearing before a judge in Texas. Norris has reportedly already confessed to the murder and, if found guilty in court, could be sentenced to death or life without the possibility of parole.
The attack happened at a private poker game at the Stafford shopping center in Houston on July 17, 2014. Norris, along with an accomplice, entered the room brandishing rifles and allegedly stole around $20,000 in cash. Leonetti happened to walk in on the robbery and tried to stop one of the attackers but was fatally shot in the process.
Norris was arrested less than two weeks after the murder. The trial was initially supposed to take place in 2016, but a judge, District Judge Brady Elliott, tossed a lot of the evidence that prosecutors had planned on submitting. The prosecutors appealed and Norris will finally be tried.
Despite the apparent confession, the 28-year-old Norris has since claimed that he is innocent. However, evidence gathered from the scene and the getaway vehicle helped to identify him as one of the culprits. His partner was never identified and is still at large.
Poker is a touchy subject in Texas. It is illegal by most views; however, private games are allowed. Poker rooms can also operate, provided they do not receive a take of the game proceeds. This has given rise to a number of poker rooms, the majority of which operate on a membership model, where players pay monthly or annual fees to play. The rooms only earn money off the fees and ancillary sales - such as food and drinks - and all the money put up during the games goes to the winners.