The man considered a ‘person of interest’ in the attack of Travis County Judge Julie Kocurek was back in a courtroom Thursday. As the shooting investigation continues, authorities are also looking into several unrelated threats made recently against Travis County officials.
In a Harris County courtroom Thursday morning, Chimene Onyeri was formally charged with the murder of a Houston man in May. While his trial was set for September, Onyeri also remains a person of interest in the Nov. 6 assassination attempt of Travis County Judge Julie Kocurek.
Defense attorney Sam Adamo indicated the investigation in Austin, as well as other pending cases, factored into not allowing Onyeri to post bond.
"He's not happy about the situation that he's in jail, in jail for a crime he didn't commit, and he would like to be out so that he can go on and face the charges that he has and the other jurisdictions,” Adamo said.
As Onyeri remains locked up, Judge Kocurek continues to recover from her injuries. Retired Judge Bob Perkins was on the bench in Kocurek's courtroom Thursday working through her docket. There were no obvious signs of any extra security measures in place, but Travis County Judge Eric Shepperd said changes have been made.
"The Judges have. We're being more vigilant about noting our surroundings, making sure we take a look at it. We may take a different route home, and there are other things we can’t and don’t want to talk about on camera, particularly because we are all just trying to be safer, and make sure we are safe and our families are safe, our staffs are safe," Judge Shepperd said.
Before the attack on Judge Kocurek, threats reportedly were made against some unnamed officers of the court in Travis County. Authorities did not provide specifics about those threats or about any ramp up with security. County deputies make regular patrols around the courthouse complex. An increase in visibility has recently been noticed.
In a statement, District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg would only comment about their policy and procedure.
"We do have a protocol for any threat that comes in. An assessment is made [by a security committee] and passed on to the chain of command."
FOX 7 confirmed an investigation was launched shortly after the Rashad Owens murder trial. He is the man who drove through a crowd of people outside of a SXSW venue, killing four in 2014. APD is looking into inflammatory comments that were allegedly posted on a social media site regarding Judge Cliff Brown, prosecutors, as well as those who sat in the jury box. Those who are being investigated could be charged with making a terrorist threat.
The threats may also prompt Travis County officials to try to re-boot plans for a new civil court house. A bond issue to pay for the construction was narrowly rejected earlier this month.