Suspect jailed in Austin for 2023 killing spree now facing capital murder charges Travis, Bexar counties. Who will prosecute first?

A lawyer for Shane James, Jr. said Bexar County prosecutors recently filed charges. The question now: which county will take the lead?

AUSTIN, Texas — An accused killer is now facing charges in both Travis and Bexar counties after a rampage that killed six people and wounded three others in December 2023.

The new charges were revealed on Tuesday during a court hearing in Austin in the capital murder case of Shane James, Jr. Police believe James killed his parents in Bexar County before going on a deadly shooting spree in Austin.

Throughout the day on Dec. 5, 2023, Emmanuel Pop Ba, Sabrina Rahman, Katherine Short, and Lauren Short were killed in seemingly random shootings. An Austin ISD police officer, a bicyclist, and an Austin police officer were also shot but survived.

James did not attend Tuesday’s brief status hearing. He instead remained at the Travis County Jail. His appointed lawyer, Russ Hunt, Jr., revealed Bexar County filed a charge two weeks ago against James.

While officials with the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office would not comment due to the pending case, a spokesperson for the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to KVUE that their office issued an active warrant for capital murder against James.

Judge Clifford A. Brown told lawyers on both sides he’d give them more time between hearings because there’s so much evidence.

“Bexar County has started providing their discovery on their case to Travis County, and so Travis County is then providing that to us,” Hunt said. “But they’ve just started doing that because Bexar County just filed their charges a couple weeks ago.”

RELATED: Attorneys for suspect in Central Texas murder rampage appear in court

The judge also requested clarity on which county would lead the way in the prosecution.

“So far, Bexar County is telling Travis County they want Travis County to take the lead,” Hunt said. “There are some decisions that will obviously have to be made in the meantime to figure out who’s gonna take the lead.”

Another question that remained unanswered Tuesday is whether the death penalty will be an option in this case.

“I’d always, frankly, prefer avoiding a trial if that’s at all possible,” Hunt said. “I’d rather have a negotiated outcome where everybody gets sort of something that they can live with.”

KVUE also asked whether there had been talks of a plea deal, but Hunt said that had not happened. 

Prosecutors with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office did not speak to reporters after Tuesday’s hearing. A spokesperson later told KVUE they typically don’t, especially in high-profile cases, to avoid jeopardizing the case.

Loved ones of the victims were at the courthouse Tuesday but also declined comment.

James’ next court hearing is set for Aug. 20, where Hunt told KVUE his client will appear.

RELATED: APD releases bodycam video from confrontation with shooting spree suspect in southwest Austin

RELATED: APD outlines shooting spree timeline, explains why alert wasn’t sent

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