SPECIAL REPORT: Trinity murder case brings more questions than answers

TRINITY, TX (KTRE) - When most 19-year-olds are attending classes and spending time at the mall, La'Kendrick Simmons was buried.

The years on the tombstone are a mother's worst nightmare.

"He didn't get to have kids, go out and live in his life, experience stuff," Mary Stubblefield said. "He was only 19 years-old. 19 years-old."

Simmons was killed two and a half years ago. His death still baffles investigators.

"I don't think there's a day that goes by that I don't think about it," Sgt. John Raiford of Trinity Police said. "Not only for the fact that we need justice for the family, but there's a killer out there running loose."

It happened on a December night in 2008. Police received a call around 10 p.m.

Raiford was first to arrive at the home. He says it was eerily quiet.

"I walked through the gate," Raiford said. "I wasn't even sure if it was the right residence. I knocked on the door and inside was chaos. When the door opened, I saw La'Kendrick laying on the floor."

This was his girlfriend and her family's home, and where Simmons spent a lot of time.

It was his girlfriend who called Mary Stubblefield to say her son had been shot.

She met her brother, Simmons' uncle, Ronald Griggs, at the murder scene.

"He was just laying there and I was calling his name, 'La'Kendrick!' I didn't get no answers," Griggs said.

"He was shot once through the chest area and went through his chest," Chief Steven Jones said.

Simmons died that night at the hospital.

First responders say not much has changed at the crime scene in the two-and-a-half years since young Simmons was killed right behind the front door.

The same family still lives there and they're still telling the same story.

Witnesses say three masked, black men forced their way in the front door demanding drugs and money.

"They came in hollering for Brandon," Raiford said. "That's who they wanted. Brandon."

This is Brandon Denman is the brother of Simmons' girlfriend.

"What they report is La'Kendrick got up to defend himself," Jones said.

That's when they shot him. And then, witnesses say the suspects turned and fled.

Initially, investigators focused on that story.

But as each new lead became a dead end and rumors began to swirl around Trinity, police started having doubts.

"There's no true evidence that there were ever three guys and now, we don't know if something happened in the house, and any of those three people in there don't want to say what happened because they're afraid of getting in trouble," Jones said.

The two-and-a-half years since La'Kendrick was killed hasn't brought police any closer to solving it.

Instead, they say it's more complicated.

"Got to know what happened," Stubblefield said. "Who did it? The hardest part right now is not knowing and why."

Seeing Simmons' mother still without answers is hard on police.

"It really brings into focus when a young man that age dies, how senseless and horrible it is," Raiford said.

Investigators say turning this case around -- Getting justice for Simmons -- depends on new information.

"This happened," Jones said. "The people who know what happened are blowing it off and not saying. Not giving us the information we need to put it over the edge and have a conviction."

Which may be the one thing that can give this poor mother a little peace.

"At least somebody would be held responsible for what they did to my child because he didn't deserve it at all," Stubblefield said. "He didn't bother nobody."

Jones asks anyone with information about Simmons' homicide case to call the Trinity County Crime Stoppers line at 936-642-2334.

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