Suspected gang member hiding in Mexico now on U.S. soil to face charges in 1991 murder


Jose Luis Rios was extradited to the U.S. from Mexico to face charges in the 1995 killing of Kristie Martin. (Screenshots from ABC Houston affiliate KTRK-TV)

Jose Luis Rios was extradited to the U.S. from Mexico to face charges in the 1995 killing of Kristie Martin. (Screenshots from ABC Houston affiliate KTRK-TV)

A suspected gang member who fled to Mexico after authorities said he fired at least five shots at a group of people at a Houston area park back in 1995, killing a high school cheerleader and wounding her friend, is now on U.S. soil to face long-awaited murder charges in the case.

Jose Luis Rios, 47, was extradited this week from Mexico, where he was arrested in August, and booked into the Harris County Jail to face a charge in the death of Kristie Martin, 19, authorities said.

“The Harris County District Attorney’s Office and the FBI worked hand-in-hand to find, detain and extradite this accused killer,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. “And now we can continue our work in the courts to get justice for the victim and her family.”

Acting Special Agent in Charge David Martinez of the FBI Houston Field Office said the agency has a long memory and reach.

“Now, almost 28 years to the day after Kristie Martin’s murder, her suspected killer will finally return to Harris County and set foot in a courtroom to face justice long overdue,” Martinez said. “To the victims and their families, you don’t forget and neither do we.”

Martin was killed around 12:15 a.m. on Dec. 23, 1995. Rios and his friend, Jorge Mendez, drove a red truck through River Terrace Park at 16500 Market Street in Channelview, east of Houston.

Authorities said the gunmen drove to a secluded area of the park where Martin was standing outside a car with a group. With Mendez driving and Rios in the passenger seat, the two called out to the group, and Martin told her group they should leave. But as they were getting back into their car, Rios opened fire, killing Martin with a shot to the back before fleeing, prosecutors said. A woman in Martin’s group was wounded.

Martin’s family told ABC Houston affiliate KTRK-TV they couldn’t understand it.

“For no reason,” her father, Brian Martin, said through tears. “Out of meanness, I guess. And then to talk away free, so far.”

Mendez and Rios ultimately fled to Mexico, prosecutors said. Harris County Sheriff’s Office detectives eventually identified and charged Rios and Mendez after two people came forward to tell police that Rios admitted to shooting Martin. Martin’s girlfriend, who had followed Rios and Mendez to the park, told police she witnessed it, authorities said.

The case was featured on “America’s Most Wanted” and “Unsolved Mysteries.”

Mendez was arrested in 2001 in Mexico, where he was tried and sentenced to 31 years in prison, prosecutors said.

Houston agents traveled to Mexico City on Wednesday to bring Rios to the U.S. He was arrested in Mexico in August.

“Justice may not always be swift, but as in this case, justice will not be denied,” FBI Houston said in a post on X.

He was booked into the Harris County Jail, online jail records show. He faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted of murder, prosecutors said.


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