Fort Bend County jury sentences man to 75 years in decades-old double homicide
Chiron Francis, 44, was sentenced Tuesday to two 75-year prison sentences for the 1994 double-homicides of 19 year-old Eric Heidbreder and 20 year-old Douglas Schwartz, college students from Austin.
The victims were shot in the head while sitting in Schwartz’ 1992 red Mazda sports car in an area of southwest Houston that lies in Fort Bend County. Following the murders, Francis fled the county and lived in the Dominican Republic, Africa and Venezuela until 2016 when he was located by the FBI and extradited.
During Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, assistant district attorney Matthew Banister argued Francis showed no remorse and deserved the maximum sentence of 99 years for each murder count.
“Chiron Francis just wanted to forget the past and he ran and ran while the victims’ families anguished,” he told jurors.
Defense attorney L.T. Bradt reminded jurors the two victims were trying to buy marijuana when they were killed.
“These two young men knew what they were getting into and that’s the dark side of the drug trade” he said. “These were not innocent young men. What other crimes did they commit?”
After roughly four hours of deliberation, the jury of six women and six men returned with their decision. Fort Bend County District 268 Judge Brady Elliot then ruled the two sentences would be served concurrently.
“Mr. Francis, you’ve been away a long time and you’ll have a long time to think about what you’ve done,” Elliot said after the ruling.
Following the trial, Fort Bend District Attorney John Healey Jr. said he was pleased with the jury’s decision.
“This is one of those instances when justice, sweet justice, takes a long time to be carried out. But, I hope and I believe it has finally arrived for the victim’s families,” said Healey, who has served as district attorney since 1992 and has followed the case since its earliest days. “I cannot remember another case in my 36-year career as a prosecutor that it has been such a long time to bring a person to the bar of justice.”
David Schwartz, father of one of the victims, said he the outcome was bittersweet.
“I think because of the heinousness of the crime, he should have gotten 99 years as was requested by the prosecution. But, 75 years will keep him in prison probably until he dies. Therefore, I felt justice was done,” Schwartz said. “But in the end, we still don’t have our son.”