Guilty plea in triple homicide

Joe Frederick Hawkins

A Beaumont man pleaded guilty Monday to the first-degree felony offense of murder and the first degree felony offense of aggravated assault in the 252nd District Court, Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham announced.

Judge Raquel West of the 252nd District accepted the guilty plea of Joe Frederick Hawkins and sentenced him to life in prison.

According to offense reports, on March 16, 2014, Beaumont police responded to gun shots fired at an address on Fourth St. When police arrived on scene, they determined that four victims had been shot. Two siblings, 33-year-old Anthony Ray Hawkins and 30-year-old Reshawna Hawkins, were pronounced dead at the scene. Their brother, 34-year-old Darrel Hawkins, died at the hospital. According to a source familiar with the investigation, Hawkins was arguing with his girlfriend when family members attempted to intervene on her behalf. He pulled out a gun and started shooting. He began firing and struck his first victim, his sister, in the face. He then turned and fired at his brother, striking him several times in the torso. He shot a single round in the head of his oldest brother. After shooting his three family members, he chased down and shot his girlfriend several times. His girlfriend, Shannon Latrice Henry, was the only survivor of the attack.

He fled the scene but was soon arrested at the Southwind Inn in Groves.

Assistant District Attorney Rachel Grove said, “This was a horrible tragedy for the Hawkins’ family. Nothing will bring back Mrs. Hawkins’ children, but justice requires that Mr. Hawkins be held responsible for what he did, no matter who the victims were. We cannot stand by and allow this type of tragedy to occur in our community with no consequences.”

The defendant initially faced charges of capital murder, but the state abandoned the death penalty because the defendant was found to be intellectually disabled.

Since the Supreme Court has held that juveniles and what used to be called the mentally retarded cannot be subjected to the death penalty, the state does not seek death for those capital cases. The defense in capital cases routinely calls for the mental evaluation of defendants, and in the case of Hawkins, tests showed he is intellectually disabled with an IQ below 70 and thus ineligible for the death penalty.

Also related to this case was the arrest of Jornae Tranise Johnson, 24, of Port Arthur, charged with hindering apprehension of Hawkins. Johnson was arrested in the 200 block of College Street and transported to Jefferson County Jail and booked in. She was subsequently released on a $100,000 bond.

Hawkins was represented by defense attorney Doug Barlow.