Report: Ankle Monitoring Didn’t Stop Dallas Murder Suspects

A report commissioned by Gov. Greg Abbott analyzing two high-profile Dallas murder cases involving suspects wearing ankle monitors found lapses in the supervision provided by their parole officers.

Abbott tasked the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles with investigating whether the parole supervision for Nestor Hernandez and Zeric Jackson was sufficient. The Board of Pardons determines whether a prisoner is eligible for parole. The Department of Criminal Justice is responsible for monitoring the parolee once he is freed.

Hernandez had spent 100 days of special incarceration for a parole violation before opening fire at Dallas Methodist Hospital just days later, all while wearing an ankle monitor. Two Methodist workers were shot and killed, and Hernandez is now charged with capital murder.

The report identifies major lapses in oversight for these parolees.

The report found that Hernandez had been in state prison twice for a variety of felony charges that included aggravated robbery, heroin possession, and unlawful possession of a firearm. Prior to the shooting, he had been in prison since 2015 after beating and restraining a woman while he and an accomplice robbed her North Dallas apartment. He struck a plea deal for eight years in prison, and if he had served all of his time, he would’ve been out on January 7, 2023. (Sentences can range anywhere from five years to 99 years.)

The board denied his first attempt at parole in January 2019, and was released on October 21, 2021 after finishing a six-month rehabilitation program—about 85 percent of his 8-year sentence. Part of the conditions of his parole included attending anger management classes and wearing a radio frequency electronic monitor. A few months later, in March 2022, he spent 12 days in county jail after being arrested for violating his curfew. His parole was reinstated because there was insufficient evidence to prove a violation had occurred, the report said.

“It is clear that the ankle monitors, a condition of their parole, were not effective in deterring or otherwise preventing these individuals from going on to commit violent crimes, resulting in three innocent lives being lost.”

Gov. Greg Abbott

In June, he was arrested for tampering with his electronic monitoring strap and was placed into custody at an Intermediate Sanction Facility designed for medium to high-risk felony offenders and in county jail. He spent about 100 days there. That was September 28. On October 20, he began shooting at Methodist Hospital while visiting his girlfriend and newborn infant, killing hospital employees Katie Flowers and Jacqueline Pokuaa.

In total, Hernandez had six violations prior to the shooting, including one the day of the hospital shooting that was withdrawn after investigators found he had gone to the hospital for the birth of his child. He never attended anger management and aftercare support groups, the report found.

“While it appears he was verbally counseled, his parole officer did not properly document interactions in the record or elevate the sanctions as required through the graduated sanctions model,” the report read.

His parole officer also failed to refer him to required outpatient treatment after he tested positive for drugs in September. He had several parole officers assigned to him. One officer is no longer with the agency, which says that the actions of five other people also warranted discipline. Of those five, two were disciplined, two left the agency during the process, and a fifth was fired.

Zeric Jackson served 95 percent of his 18-year sentence before being released on parole in May 2022. In November, he allegedly shot and killed Brian Dillard at the Audalia Road apartment belonging to Jackson’s girlfriend. His ankle monitor allowed officers to create a timeline from the time he drove to his girlfriend’s apartment complex and back to his home in southern Dallas. He is also charged with capital murder.

Jackson had been in prison since 2005 for being part of a group that fatally shot two people during a robbery outside the Neon Cowboy bar. As part of the terms of his sentencing, he was not eligible for parole until he had served half his sentence. A parole board denied his parole four times before finally approving it last April.

Jackson was assigned to a Super Intensive Supervision Program, or SISP. Unlike regular ankle monitoring, the SISP program outfits parolees with GPS monitors, and they are required to comply with a 24-hour a day schedule that is pre-approved by their parole officer. The agents are required to have multiple face-to-face visits with their parolees each month, and GPS information is reviewed daily.

Jackson had two violations that resulted in a warrant between May and November, but both were determined to be equipment malfunctions. In the course of investigating, the report said it found that Jackson made 16 unapproved visits to his girlfriend’s home.

The report said his parole officer “failed to properly check his GPS coordinates” and failed to routinely meet with Jackson in person as required. That officer was fired.

After the Methodist shootings, Dallas police chief Eddie Garcia questioned the effectiveness of ankle monitors altogether.

“A violent individual such as this should not have been on an ankle monitor and should have remained in custody,” Garcia said. “I’m at a pause when we think that putting an ankle monitor on a violent criminal is some form of accountability, because ankle monitors on violent criminals are useless.”

It doesn’t seem, however, that anyone is ready to get rid of them. The TDCO and BPP report concludes by proposing new legislation that would make tampering with or cutting off an ankle monitor a criminal offense, as well as requiring law enforcement to make apprehending SISP parolees a priority if a warrant has been issued.

“I’m at a pause when we think that putting an ankle monitor on a violent criminal is some form of accountability, because ankle monitors on violent criminals are useless.”

Chief Eddie Garcia

Abbott agreed, asking Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to add it to their list of priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

“It is clear that the ankle monitors, a condition of their parole, were not effective in deterring or otherwise preventing these individuals from going on to commit violent crimes, resulting in three innocent lives being lost,” he wrote.

The TDCJ says it is conducting a comprehensive review of the Dallas parole office, and all employees who are working directly with parolees have been retrained.

“The Parole Division has designated a team of administrators to conduct unannounced field audits to ensure compliance,” the report said, and the TDCJ is also reviewing all of its supervision policies. It will also pilot “a new supervision model that is a team approach rather than parole officer specific.”

A study of pre-pandemic staffing of the TDCJ’s parole division found that there were 1,400 parole officers for about 83,000 parolees. The caseloads have averaged around 62 parolees for every 1 parole officer since 2010, according to the report. The ratio of SISP parolees to parole officers is 14 to 1, and 25 to 1 for parolees on electronic monitoring.


Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson

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Bethany Erickson is the senior digital editor for D Magazine. She’s written about real estate, education policy, the stock market, and crime throughout her career, and sometimes all at the same time. She hates lima beans and 5 a.m. and takes SAT practice tests for fun.


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