HOUSTON — A Houston man released on bond this summer while awaiting trial in the 2016 stabbing death of one of his friends is back behind bars after authorities allege he killed a second man late last month.
Edward O’Neal IV, 23, is charged with murder in the Nov. 28 shooting death of 39-year-old Derrick Mike. Court records show that O’Neal is being held without bail in the Harris County Jail.
Houston police officers were called around 11:10 p.m. the night of the shooting to a parking area at the Garden City Apartments.
“Upon arrival, they found the victim suffering from multiple gunshot wounds,” police officials said in a statement. “The suspect, described only as a Black male, 21 to 23 years of age, had fled the scene.”
Mike, who was conscious and described his assailant, was taken to HCA Houston Healthcare Northwest, where he died the following day.
Court records obtained by the Houston Chronicle indicate that Mike was the ex-boyfriend of O’Neal’s cousin. The woman said that she had a handgun in her apartment, but said she could not find it after the shooting.
The cousin told detectives that she heard the gunfire that killed Mike but did not see the shooting.
“She looked out the window and saw her cousin running away,” an investigator wrote in the criminal complaint. “She thinks Edward had taken her gun.”
O’Neal allegedly told his mother what he’d done, the court records show. He also claimed that he’d killed Mike at his cousin’s urging because she suspected Mike of cheating on her.
Mike’s family members posted the woman’s photo on social media, asking the public to help find her. Her name is not being made public because she has not been charged with a crime.
O’Neal’s mother told detectives that her son “has mental issues and that she is afraid of what else he may do,” the court documents allege, according to ABC13 in Houston.
Christina Roberts feels the same way.
O’Neal was 18 years old when he was charged with murder in the Jan. 15, 2016, death of Roberts’ son, Ryan Roberts. Ryan Roberts, one of his best friends, was 16.
“I told the DA he should not get out. He killed my son, he’ll be killing again,” Christina Roberts told ABC13.
According to Houston police officials, Christina Roberts reported her son missing the day of his death. Roberts told the news station at the time that her son, a freshman at Jefferson Davis High School, had texted her to say he’d be home late from school because of a substitute bus driver.
“That was the last I heard of him,” she told the station.
Roberts and police officers spent the next few days searching for the missing teen.
“Following unsuccessful attempts to locate him, his mother advised on Monday (Jan. 18, 2016) that she had reason to believe he might be deceased in a wooded area near their apartment complex,” a news release from the department stated. “A search ensued, however, he was not found.”
Texas EquuSearch, a search and rescue organization, began assisting the family. They found Ryan Roberts’ body in the woods on Jan. 19.
“We’ve been doing this a long time and it doesn’t get any easier,” Tim Miller, the head of the group, told ABC13 in 2016.
Christina Roberts said it was a neighbor — and a cousin of O’Neal’s — who came forward with the information that led to her son’s body.
“(O’Neal) confessed to his cousin, in detail,” she said.
It was unclear if it was the same cousin who had been in a relationship with Mike.
Christina Roberts told ABC13 in 2016 that O’Neal, who was a close friend of her son’s and had even lived at the Roberts home, had a dark side.
“He worships the devil. He’ll tell you that himself,” she said. “He worships the devil.”
O’Neal’s mother told the station the same thing.
“He doesn’t believe in God, he believes in the devil,” the woman, whose name was withheld, told a reporter. “I didn’t raise him like that. As a child, he was born and raised in the church home.”
As a teen, she said, her son began drawing pictures of the devil. He also killed the family pets, she said.
O’Neal’s mother said she was convinced that her son had killed Ryan Roberts.
“He did the crime, he needs to do the time,” she said.
O’Neal, who tried to kill himself six days after Ryan Roberts’ killing, ended up spending time in a mental health facility, KHOU reported. His father, Edward O’Neal III, helped him check into the hospital.
The elder O’Neal also said his son had a history of Satan worship, as well as a history of mental illness.
Court records show that it is O’Neal’s mental illness that has delayed a trial in Ryan Roberts’ death.
O’Neal, who allegedly admitted to police that he’d stabbed his friend, was arrested Feb. 11, 2016, on a murder charge.
He told KPRC in Houston a few days later that he was innocent.
“Why would I kill my best friend, who did nothing to me?” he asked the news station in a jailhouse interview.
O’Neal blamed another friend for Ryan Roberts’ stabbing death. When a reporter emphasized the long prison sentence he was facing, the inmate “looked a bit shocked,” the station reported.
“I’d rather be dead than in jail,” he said.
O’Neal wrote to the court in August 2016 that he was feeling suicidal and hearing voices. Court documents filed by O’Neal’s defense attorney indicated he’d been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.
“Hopeless,” the handwritten note said. “Want (to) end my life by overdosing on pills and cutting my throat.”
A judge ordered O’Neal to be committed for 120 days to a mental institution, where he was declared incompetent to stand trial. He remained behind bars until earlier this year, when he was found competent to stand trial.
Judge Mark Kent Ellis, who heads the felony mental health court, reduced O’Neal’s bond from $50,000 to $25,000 in June. O’Neal posted bond Aug. 10, court records show.
Andy Kahan, a representative of Crime Stoppers of Houston, told KPRC that he was surprised by the judge’s decision.
“I’ve never seen a bond this low for first-degree murder in my career,” Kahan said.
Mario Garza, president of the Harris County Bail Bondsman Association, was also concerned.
“When you’re dealing with competency issues, mental health, that should automatically say, ‘Hey, I need to think this one through,’ because they’re unstable,” Garza told the news station.
Kahan told KHOU O’Neal isn’t the only defendant with mental illness who has been accused of killing someone after being released on bond. Randy Lewis had been declared incompetent to stand trial in connection with an assault charge from 2018.
Lewis was released to a group home on a personal recognizance bond May 1. That means he was released without having to hand over any money.
Fifteen days later, Lewis fatally stabbed Rosalie Cook, 80, as she stood outside her vehicle in a Walgreens parking lot, Houston police officials said. He then tried to steal her car.
Lewis, 38, was shot and killed by a police officer who responded to the scene.
Kahan said the public deserves answers from the court in the O’Neal case.
“I would love for somebody to say, ‘This is why we did what we did. This is why we thought Edward O’Neal was a good risk to release back into the community,’” he told KHOU.
Harris County District Attorney’s Office prosecutors issued a statement in which they pointed out that they’d fought against O’Neal’s bond being lowered.
“Our prosecutors told the judge in court that we opposed bond being lowered for this defendant, and we twice filed motions asking the judge to set conditions on the defendant’s bond if he were to be released pending trial,” Dane Schiller, a spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, told the news station. “We also let the judge know the facts of the original murder, to ensure the court was aware of our concerns for public safety.”
Christina Roberts told KHOU she has sympathy for Mike’s family members, who are facing grief similar to her own.
“It’s sad that another family is having to go through what I went through because the justice system failed us,” she told the station.