A Bell County judge this week decided to keep a Killeen woman’s bond at $500,000 on a murder charge from earlier this year.
Jessica Helen Hampton, 18, originally had a bond of $1 million but that had been halved at a prior hearing. After hearing testimony and some arguments during a remote hearing in the 426th Judicial District Court on Tuesday, Judge Steve Duskie decided not to lower it further.
Hampton and co-defendant Breez Breann Collier, 24, were booked into jail on June 21 after police said they shot and killed 24-year-old Shareef Raekwon Ali-Barnett while attempting to rob him on June 14.
Hampton’s younger brother, 15-year-old Jordan Hampton, also has been charged with murder in the case, according to court hearings.
During a hearing on Aug. 4, the state’s prosecutor said that all three defendants are being charged with capital murder because the crime allegedly occurred while committing an armed robbery.
Defense attorney Mike White said during the hearing on Tuesday that he anticipates the case going to trial no sooner than next summer, and that people who have been in jail longer than Jessica Hampton likely will have their cases heard first.
The state’s prosecutor argued against another reduction in bond because of Hampton’s prior record.
“She was on a juvenile probation that involved the shooting of another person in California,” said Assistant District Attorney Shelly Strimple. “She has a history of running away and using drugs. There’s no better example of a danger to a community than someone who is involved in a shooting and then a murder.”
Hampton’s mother, who testified at the hearing, did not dispute that her daughter was on probation for a felony offense, but indicated that there is more to the story.
“Jessica was a victim of human trafficking when she was 14,” said Amy Cage. She said that two men now are in prison after a federal prosecution.
“She went to California to get help with Children of the Night but she met a girl and they took off,” Cage said. “She was missing for 10 months and was with a very violent street gang. After the shooting, she pleaded guilty instead of having to testify because they had threatened her and us (her family).”
Children of the Night, based in Los Angeles, is a nonprofit that helps children who have been exploited through prostitution or pornography.
On June 14, Killeen police responded to a shots-fired call around 1:59 a.m. in the 200 block of Evergreen Drive. When officers arrived at the scene, they located Shareef Raekwon Ali-Barnett suffering from a gunshot wound to the torso.
Justice of the Peace Bill Cooke pronounced him deceased at 2:52 a.m. on scene and ordered an autopsy to be performed at the Southwestern Institute of Forensics Sciences in Dallas.
“The victim’s pockets had been turned inside out when Killeen police arrived on scene,” according to the arrest affidavit.
Extracted data from the phone that belonged to Ali-Barnett indicated that he arranged to meet Collier, who went by the screen name “Big Baby,” through an escort website, police said.
Police reviewed several segments of surveillance videos from another residence on Evergreen. One showed a woman, later identified as Hampton, approach Ali-Barnett’s car parked on the street.
Hampton allegedly told police that she had told the man to wait and that Collier would be right there, police said.
Another video allegedly depicted a woman talking on her cellphone and pacing.
In another video clip, three individuals can be seen walking in front of a residence and later “running away from where the body was located and appear to be trying to enter the victim’s vehicle,” police said.
Through the investigation, police said they learned that Collier walked up with a man called “Lucky” and another male known as “Keem.” Collier got into the vehicle with the victim for a few minutes and then the victim and Collier got out of the car and walked to the side of the house where it was dark, according to the affidavit.
Jessica Hampton allegedly told police that she “heard a shot and then another couple of shots...” and saw the victim fall to the ground at the intersection. She said she saw blood and a male going through the victim’s pockets.
The group returned to the motel where they had been staying, packed their things and left, police said.
Police said when they searched Jessica Hampton’s phone a text thread indicated the two women planned to rob Ali-Barnett.