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'Happy to be home' | Man released from jail a year after facing double murder charges in St. Pete

Posted at 5:45 PM, Oct 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-11 17:45:06-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- This month marks one year since a double homicide in St. Petersburg, but now the man originally accused of the crime is no longer facing murder charges, and police are working to solve the case once again.

Charles Hixon Jr., 31, was arrested for the murders of Kenneth Shook, 35, and Cheryl Casey, 58, in October 2018. Police said their bodies were found in a pick up truck in an alley off of 14th Avenue South.

Shook and Casey were shot and killed.

“We had a witness who placed Mr. Hixon at the scene and she knew intimate details about the crime scene that no one else would really know unless you were familiar with what happened there,” said Yolanda Fernandez, a spokesperson for the St. Petersburg Police Department. “We found fingerprints all over the scene. we found the victims possessions in the suspects possession. So everything kind of in totality, we had a lot of evidence that was very solid that pointed to being able to make this arrest.”

According to court documents, the state sought the death penalty against Hixon. But late September 2019, the witness changed her statements according to court documents.

Angela Thurman said she was not an eyewitness to the homicide. She said police intimidated her into saying otherwise, using a potential drug charge against her, and pushing her against a wall at one point.

“They basically made me feel like I had no choice but to do what they wanted me to do and say what they wanted me to say,” Thurman stated in her deposition, according to court records.

According to court records, she said they did see the deceased victims when they “tried to get stuff out of the truck and off the victims.”

“This is the first that we’re hearing of these allegations,” said Fernandez. “She’s not made a formal complaint. Her attorney has not approached the police department with a complaint. And knowing that she lied to us before and lied under oath and now faces a perjury charge, for us her credibility is pretty much done. It’s destroyed. So we don’t believe her allegations at this point.”

Now, Thurman is charged with perjury. She remained in jail as of Friday afternoon and declined an interview with ABC Action News.

Following her deposition, Hixon was released from custody and no longer faces murder charges.

“We are appalled that in 2019, the government still seeks to execute innocent people and this was a tremendous waste of taxpayer money. We can’t fathom what it felt like for Mr. Hixon to sit in jail for a year facing the death penalty for a crime he didn’t commit,” stated a member of Hixon’s defense team.

Hixon spoke with ABC Action News Friday afternoon.

“Happy to be home, can’t really say anything else about it happy it worked itself out,” he said.

Hixon said he did not kill Shook and Casey and did not steal from their bodies.

“I have no idea what she’s talking about I had no idea from the start,” he said of the witness’ statements.

Since his release, he said he’s trying to get enrolled in school, doing odd jobs and relaxing. He is planning to marry his fiancee, Melissa Minton, in November.

“I’m astonished he’s home I knew he was innocent from the get-go and everything just pretty much worked itself out,” Minton said.

She said she visited him more than 93 times while he was behind bars.

We asked him how he reacted when he found out about the change in the accusations against him.

“Glad, one of the gladdest days of my life,” Hixon said.

Now, St. Petersburg Police are back to figuring out who killed Shook and Casey.

“Our detectives now have a double murder to solve and they’re working very hard on this and hopefully we’ll be able to develop leads and a suspect,” Fernandez said.

If you know anything about their homicides, you’re asked to call St. Petersburg police.