PORT ARTHUR, Texas — A Port Arthur man is still at large after police say he shot a woman in the face during an argument on March 1.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The video above is from a April 29, 2022 newscast.)
A warrant for aggravated assault was issued for 56-year-old John Fitzgerald Rice.
After several witnesses were interviewed and statements were gathered, the case was forwarded to the district attorney’s office for review, according to a news release from the Port Arthur Police Department.
Shaquitta Hill, 31, claims that she was shot in the face by Rice. She previously told 12News that the shooting impacts her everyday life.
“I’ve just been traumatized by it,” Hill said. “I can’t sleep. When I work, if somebody drops something, it scares me. I try to go home because I need to be somewhere where I feel safe.”
The Port Arthur mother said on the day of the shooting she was trying to defuse a fight outside her neighbor’s house. Before she knew it, a man pulled out a gun and shot her.
“By the time I turned back around, he had shot me,” Hill said.
Shaquitta Hill said she is lucky to be alive. However, she and her mother, Angela Hill, said they are getting impatient as they wait for justice.
“I mean, you shot my daughter,” Angela Hill said. “You got to, you know, pay the consequences, do the time, whatever.”
Angela Hill said the person responsible should have been behind bars already. The victim’s mother feels that justice is taking too long.
“Inches away from her brain, her eye socket,” Angela Hill said. “She has kids. [She’s] a mother of three.”
Port Arthur Police said the case has been at the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office for two weeks. They expect a grand jury ruling on it by Wednesday.
Experts said there is a reason the case is taking longer than usual.
“The virus has pretty much shut down the practice of law over the last two years,” Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham said.
Wortham said there have not been any juries available to try cases. This has created a backlog in the system.
In addition to not having juries available, there are other issues slowing down the judicial process.
“It’s hard to get a person to plead guilty when there’s no jury sitting out in the hall, because if you’re not trying cases, it slows your docket way down,” Wortham said.
Wortham does expect an indictment in the case soon. Shaquitta Hill and her mother continue to wait.
“Just want justice, and I feel like I at least deserve that,” Shaquitta Hill said.
Due to the backlog of cases, Wortham said it could be up to a year before some suspects stand trial.