Man eyed in shooting of Texas judge first encountered her in 2012

A person of interest in connection with the shooting of a Texas judge last week first encountered her in 2012 when he was under investigation for alleged ties to a Nigerian crime ring.

Chimene Hamilton Onyeri, 28, was also charged with murder on Tuesday in the unrelated Houston slaying of 31-year-old Jacobi Demon Alexander on May 18.

Onyeri, who is being eyed in the shooting of District Judge Julie Kocurek, previously met her in the spring and summer of 2012 after he was linked to an identity theft investigation, according to FOX7.

An affidavit from Onyeri's 2012 arrest in the Travis County case shows Austin-area police charged Onyeri with fraudulent use of identifying information after police found 17 gift cards encoded with stolen bank account information during a traffic stop.

"I traveled to Houston as part of the investigation and I did find there was a large group of individuals that was involved in this theft ring,” Detective Joel Martin told FOX7. “The numbers are in the high hundreds of people that are involved in this ring. Unfortunately I was only able to identify 27 of them.”

Onyeri pleaded guilty in the case and was sentenced to three years probation, according to FOX7.

In August, however, Kocurek began considering a motion from Travis County prosecutors seeking to have Onyeri's probation revoked after authorities in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana charged him with unauthorized use of a debit card. A hearing was initially set for early November for that process, but the date was then moved to Dec. 11.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said Onyeri is being investigated but isn't considered a formal suspect yet in Friday's "cowardly" attack on Kocurek, who was shot and wounded as she arrived at her Austin home. Her injuries were not considered life-threatening, but she remained hospitalized Tuesday.

Investigators are working to establish an "affirmative link" that shows Kocurek was targeted because of her work on the bench, Acevedo said.

In the May shooting, authorities say Alexander was walking through a common area of a Houston apartment complex when two men approached him and shot him several times. No motive was given for the murder and the complaint didn't specify how Onyeri may be linked to it.

Onyeri has a preliminary court appearance on the murder charge scheduled for Thursday. His lawyer, Michaela Cuellar, didn't respond to a message seeking comment.

Onyeri has a criminal record dating to 2006, with offenses that include fraudulently using another person's identity or bank cards. He's also been charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, marijuana possession and evading detention. He was arrested in 2008 in Harris County on a murder charge that was later dismissed.

Court records show Onyeri was charged in the June 2008 slaying of a Houston man. At the time, Onyeri was out on bond after being charged earlier that year with aggravated robbery from a 2005 incident.

Harris County District Attorney's Office spokesman Jeff McShan said prosecutors decided they had a better chance of conviction on the aggravated robbery charge, so they tried him on that and planned to bring up at sentencing that he was a suspect in a slaying. But he was acquitted of aggravated robbery at trial in 2013.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Cameron Welch told The Associated Press that Onyeri was taken into custody Monday in Houston following a traffic stop. He was being sought by officials in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on a larceny charge for allegedly stealing a vehicle.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.