A cold case involving a murdered teen is now back open and moving forward 43 years later.
Melvin Knox, 58, is accused of shooting and stabbing to death a 14-year-old neighborhood friend, Donald Rogers, when Knox was just 15 years old.
Now pushing 60 years old, Knox was in juvenile court where he was certified to stand trial as an adult more than four decades after the alleged crime.
With no statute of limitations for murder, Ray Hall Jr suddenly finds himself thrust into the role of court-appointed attorney for Knox.
Police say Knox and Rodgers were playing basketball back in 1973 at Knox's house in southeast Fort Worth. Knox claimed Rodgers went inside and was murdered by an intruder. The case was dismissed in 1974 due to insufficient evidence.
“There was nothing that anybody could show from the state that showed that anything was done by the police or the DAs office after the dismissal,” said Hall. “So they had almost two years from that time before he turned 18 that they could have gathered information and refiled the case.”
Fort Worth police reopened the case in 2015 after getting a call from the victim's brother, who learned the killer was never prosecuted. Hall said not only did prosecutors miss their chance to try Knox when the case was fresh, but doing it now isn't fair to his client.
“They can't find any of the evidence so that any of that can be retested by the defense,” said Hall. “Also, five of the witnesses in the original report are deceased, including the two detectives that investigated the case.”
At the time, investigators recovered two shotguns and a butcher knife, among evidence now missing.
The cold case detective told the judge on Tuesday that Knox's mother, who was re-interviewed last August, told him her son confessed to her as a teen that the two boys had gotten into a confrontation before the killing. Hall questions that interview because Knox's mother takes Alzheimer's medication and questions if a confession by Knox himself would be admissible in court.
Police say Knox confessed when police re-interviewed him in December and played a tape of his mother's statement. The detective told the judge Knox admitted the boys had been playing with a gun before he killed his friend.
“I think it's going to be hard for both the state and the defense to try this case,” said Hall.
Hall said he's appealing Knox's certification as adult. The district attorney’s office will decide if it moves forward.