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Man charged with girl's drive-by murder

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LaPorsha Washington, centre, the mother of seven-year-old daughter Jazmine Barnes (Melissa Phillip/AP)

LaPorsha Washington, centre, the mother of seven-year-old daughter Jazmine Barnes (Melissa Phillip/AP)

LaPorsha Washington, centre, the mother of seven-year-old daughter Jazmine Barnes (Melissa Phillip/AP)

A black man has been charged with murder in the killing of a seven-year-old black girl in a drive-by shooting in Houston prosecutors said was a case of mistaken identity.

Jazmine Barnes's family had described the gunman in the December 30 slaying as a white man driving a red pick-up, stirring fears among community activists that race played a role in the attack.

But during a court hearing yesterday, prosecutors said 20-year-old Eric Black Jr told investigators he was driving the vehicle from which a passenger opened fire. He said he was in a dark-coloured SUV he had rented. Authorities did not explain the discrepancies.

Chris Sevilla, Jazmine's father, said he was feeling "a bit of relief right now" after the arrest.

Prosecutors said a confidential source had contacted the sheriff by email and told him the killers had "shot the car by mistake," thinking the vehicle Jazmine was in was someone else's that they had seen earlier in the night.

Mr Black, who was arrested on Saturday night, was charged with capital murder and jailed without bail.

Prosecutors said the 9mm handgun believed used in the shooting had been recovered from Mr Black's home.

Jazmine's mother, LaPorsha Washington, had tried to drive to a hospital after the shooting, but one of her front tyres had been shot out.

Irish Independent