Man wrongly accused of killing 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes found dead in jail cell

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A composite sketch of Robert Paul Cantrell Harris County Sheriff’s Office

A man who was wrongly accused of murdering 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes last year was found dead in a Texas jail last week in an apparent suicide, according to a report.


Robert Paul Cantrell, 49, was found by guards hanging in his Montgomery County Jail cell about 4:20 a.m. on July 23. He was declared dead on the scene, authorities said.

Cantrell, who is white, has been jailed since his robbery arrest on Dec. 30, 2018 — the same day Barnes, who is black, was killed in a drive-by shooting as her family headed to a Houston Walmart.

Shortly after the tragic shooting, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office released a composite sketch based off witness accounts of the suspect in Barnes’ murder — depicting a white man with blue eyes.

The case immediately drew the attention of online activist Shaun King, who on Jan. 1 tweeted “URGENT. ALL HANDS ON DECK. A 40 y/o white man w/ a beard in a red pickup truck pulled up on 7 y/o Jazmine Barnes and her family near a Houston @Walmartand shot and killed her and injured others.”

King, who offered a $25,000 reward to catch the Barnes’ killer, later blasted out to his 1.1 million Twitter followers Cantrell’s mugshot, which looks similar to the composite sketch, according to Houston’s ABC 13.

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