Fifth suspect arrested in murder case

Brandon Rene James

A fifth suspect in February’s social media swap killing has been booked into the Wharton County Jail on a murder charge.

Originally arrested as a juvenile, 17-year-old Brandon Rene James will now have to face the possibility of adult punishment, accused of capital murder in the Feb. 23 El Campo slaying of 21-year-old Shane Singleton of Wharton.

“He will be tried as an adult,” Wharton County District Attorney Dawn Allison told the Leader-News Tuesday. “The only effect of James being a juvenile at the time of the offense, is the death penalty is not an option.”

Prosecutors asked for the status change in a juvenile court hearing on Oct. 28 and 29. “The court considered ... the sophistication and maturity of James. The record and previous history of James, the prospects of adequate protection of the public and likelihood of rehabilitation available to the juvenile court (and) the circumstances of the offense and whether there was probable cause that (he) committed the offenses alleged,” Allison said.

James was taken to the county jail Monday, “He turned 17 so therefore he was transferred from a juvenile facility to the sheriff’s office because now he is considered an adult,” ECPD Cpl. Mark Biskup said.

Seeing an advertisement on social media, 21-year-old Shane Singleton of Wharton drove to El Campo, pulling up in the darkened driveway at 704.5 Alvin on Feb. 23.

There, what he thought was going to be a purchase and the exchange somehow de-evolved into an ambush.

Indictments allege the five intended to rob Singleton that night, shooting him in the process.

Neighbors reported shots fired, summoning police to the area.

There, they found Singleton inside his running vehicle, the highlights still on although he had pulled forward and struck the bottom portion of a garage apartment.

Singleton died the next day at Houston’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.

Five men now face murder charges in the case – James and Devin Lamont Lott, both of Wharton; along with El Campo residents Devin Ray Garcia, 17, 18-year-old Dayton Ray Quinonez and 19-year-old Drew Avrie Quinonez,

All remain in the Wharton County jail in lieu of a $1 million bond. Each case will be prosecuted by the state Attorney General’s Office based on a conflict with past representation or knowledge in the DA’s office.

James also faces three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges and one charge of deadly conduct, all related to pending Wharton PD cases.

“These are the same charges James had pending as a Juvenile. Now that he has been certified to stand trial as an adult, the same process begins. His cases will be presented to the (Wharton County) Grand Jury on Jan. 4, 2022. Should he be indicted, his cases will then be assigned to a District Court,” Allison said.

A Wharton PD spokesperson could not be reached for comment on the additional pending charges.

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