2015 Austin homicide ruled self defense, victim’s friends charged instead

Man found dead at an Exxon gas station on Dec. 12, 2015.
Man found dead at an Exxon gas station on Dec. 12, 2015.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two men who police say robbed a game room in December of 2015 that led to the shooting death of one of their friends are now facing charges of aggravated robbery.

The whole situation unfolded on Dec. 12, 2015, when police found the body of 27-year-old Eric Sorrells in the parking lot of an Exxon gas station at the corner of Burleson Road and US 183 around 2 a.m.

Around the same time, two women showed up the hospital claiming they were carjacked and pistol whipped at the intersection of Montopolis Drive and Burleson Road. At the time, the women claimed two black men wearing masks assaulted them and stole their belongings as well as their Honda Accord.

When investigators went back and looked at surveillance video from the gas station, the video showed the stolen Honda Accord pulling in around 1:40 a.m. The driver got out of the car, walked to the rear passenger door and pulled out the man identified as Sorrells.

According to an arrest warrant, around 12:30 a.m., an hour before Sorrells’ body was dropped off at the gas station, Sorrells and two other men, identified as Michael Berry, 28, and Darnell Barnett, 40, broke into the game room located in the 5700 block of Farm to Market 973. The two women who originally said they were carjacked ultimately revealed to police that they were at the game room because one of the women worked there and her girlfriend was picking her up from work that night.

While at the game room, the women said they heard a commotion and a “pop.” As they sought shelter in a closet, the men pulled them out, assaulted them and robbed them. When the scene finally cleared, the women came out and realized their car had been stolen.

The person managing the game room told detectives all three suspects had guns and they were shooting at him, so he shot back. He then hid underneath a trailer but while there, he heard one of the suspects say “I got hit!” before they left, continued in the affidavit.

According to the affidavit, Berry told Sorrells’ mother that he had to leave him at the gas station because he had warrants out for his arrest and he had cut his leg monitor off.

Both victims told police they were not truthful during the initial interview because they were afraid the suspects would hurt them.

The case against the game room operator was presented to the Travis County District Attorney’s Office in reference to Sorrells’ shooting death, but prosecution was denied claiming it was self defense.

Berry and Barnett have not been arrested on the new charges as of Friday afternoon.

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