High-Profile KFC Murder Case Could be Tried in Brazos County

It went unsolved for years, but now one of Texas' most high-profile murder cases could be headed to Brazos County.

Darnell Hartsfield, 46, of Tyler faces five counts of capital murder. Hartsfield and his cousin Romeo Pinkerton are accused of abducting five people from a Kilgore KFC restaurant in 1983 and killing them "execution style."

Pinkerton pleaded guilty to lesser charges in October, and received five life sentences.

Hartsfield is currently serving a life sentence for aggravated perjury in connection with the case.

He could get the death penalty if convicted of the murders, because of his extensive criminal record.

The case went unsolved for two decades because of DNA technology not available until now. Authorities say Pinkerton's blood was found on a napkin at the scene. Blood from Hartsfield, who was arrested for aggravated robbery three days after the slayings, was found on a box of cash register tapes.

The trial is being moved, because of the media attention it has received.

The 361st Brazos County District Court says a hearing is scheduled for May to decide if the trial will be held in Brazos County. If so, it could begin in August. Local jurors would be used for the trial.

Other counties are also up for consideration to host the trial.

There is a gag order in the case, meaning it cannot be discussed outside of the courtroom.

This isn't the first time Brazos County has hosted a high-profile murder case. In 1999, white supremacist Lawrence Russell Brewer was convicted of dragging a black man to death in Jasper.


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