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$4 Billion Bond Saga Continues as Two People Are Indicted for Tampering With Evidence in Killeen Murder Case

Quinton Maurice Barnes, left, and Tarah Ann Nichols, right - Bell County Jail Photos
Quinton Maurice Barnes, left, and Tarah Ann Nichols, right – Bell County Jail Photos

The murder case of Donte Javon Samuels of Killeen became something of a circus after Bell County Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown set suspect Antonio Marquis Willis’ bond at $4 billion last month. Now, the day of Brown’s dismissal hearing, we learn that two people have been indicted after allegedly tampering with evidence in the case.

Our news partner, KWTX, reports that Quinton Maurice Barnes, 32, and Tarah Ann Nichols, 28, were named in an indictment from the Bell County Grand Jury charging them with tampering with or fabricating evidence with intent to impair an investigation Рa third degree felony. Jail records indicated that Nichols has also been charged with possession of a controlled substance.

At the time of this article’s publication, Barnes was still in the Bell County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bond. Nichols also remained in custody with bonds totaling $520,000.

Barnes’ account of what happened on the night of December 21, 2016 – the night Samuels was killed – is chronicled in KWTX‘s article. He reportedly told police he was staying at Nichols’ house on Water Street when Samuels knocked on the door and asked to speak with Nichols. Barnes said he told Samuels to leave, and that Samuels returned a short time later and broke the windshield of Nichols’ car.

According to Barnes, a man nicknamed “Honcho” was at Nichols’ home when Samuels returned once again. “Honcho” reportedly told Samuels to leave, then drew a gun and shot him, after which Samuels began running in the direction of 38th Street.

Samuels was found dead in the yard of a house in the 300 block of South 56th Street the next morning. 

Barnes reportedly told investigators he helped Nichols remove security cameras and monitors the night after the shooting after she expressed fear that someone thought she was involved in the shooting. She was later arrested after being named a person of interest in the case.

On Thursday, February 2, the prime suspect in the case, Antonio Marquis Willis, turned himself in at Killeen Police Headquarters after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown made national headlines when she set his bond at $4 billion, reportedly to make a point about exorbitant bonds. The amount was later reduced, and Willis bonded out of jail.

Killeen attorney Brett Pritchard filed a motion to have Brown removed from her position. A week later, Kerr County Judge Stephen Abels set a dismissal hearing date for March 9.

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