By DEANNA BOYD
STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER
FORT WORTH -- Apparently still high on heroin Monday night, Marco Antonio Terrazas Flores gave Laredo police officers, who had found him passed out in the street, something he might come to regret:
His real name and date of birth.
After more than nine years on the run, Flores was arrested after Laredo police ran his name through a national database and learned that a capital murder warrant had been issued for him after the robbery and fatal shooting of James H. Baxter, a 70-year-old Fort Worth grocery store owner.
"He was high at the time," Detective Manny Reyes of the Fort Worth police Cold Case unit said of Flores' honesty when he was picked up.
"When you're high, you don't think clearly, and he inadvertently gave his true and correct name. He wasn't thinking, 'Hey man, the police are asking what my name is. I need to give them my false name.'"
Reyes traveled to Laredo on Monday night and verified Flores' identity. Reyes said Flores gave him a statement about the Baxter case early Tuesday.
Flores, 27, remained in the Webb County Jail on Tuesday awaiting transportation to Tarrant County.
"The good thing is, through this guy's drug habit, finally the family of the victim up in Fort Worth is going to get some closure on this," said officer Juan Rivera, a Laredo police spokesman.
The arrest was a relief to Baxter's family.
"I do express my thanks to the police," said Avery Baxter, the victim's son, in a telephone interview Tuesday from his Arkansas home.
Debbie Durham of Burleson, Baxter's daughter, said she had given up hope that an arrest would be made.
"I've been praying they would catch him," Durham said. "My father was such a good man. If anybody wanted anything, he would give them everything they would want."
Baxter, affectionately known by customers has "Mr. B," had owned the Baxter Grocery Store at 3750 Hemphill St. for 16 years when he was killed Aug. 31, 1996.
Witnesses told police that two men entered the store and announced a holdup before gunshots rang out. The men were seen fleeing the store, one of them carrying a cash drawer, and leaving in a waiting car, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Baxter, who was shot in the upper left chest, died at a Fort Worth hospital.
He apparently got off a shot at the robbers, hitting one of them, police said.
A day later, police found the body of Victor Arriaga, 26, under a bridge at Interstate 20 and Bellaire Drive South.
Police later learned from witnesses that Arriaga, Flores and another man had been drinking beer before leaving a Fort Worth house together in a car. According to the affidavit, the men returned to the home about an hour later. It was clear that Arriaga was wounded, and people at the house told the other two to take Arriaga to the hospital. The three men left again, and witnesses saw several $100 bills inside the men's car when they left, the affidavit stated.
Flores and the second man returned soon, telling people they had dumped Arriaga's body under a bridge, the affidavit stated.
"We're going to have to review the autopsy report to see if they had made a determination at that time as to whether he was alive when he was dumped," homicide Sgt. J.D. Thornton said.
That night, Flores reportedly took a bus to Mexico. The other suspect, who is still being sought, reportedly stayed in the United States.
Homicide detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Flores on Sept. 14, 1996, after learning from authorities in Mexico that Flores had given a statement implicating himself in the robbery and fatal shooting. The Mexican authorities had received an anonymous tip that Flores had had "some problems" in the United States and was fleeing the police, the affidavit states.
Flores, however, was released by the Mexican authorities before he could be arrested, Thornton said.
In his interview with Reyes on Tuesday morning, Flores said he remained in a Mexico jail for three days but was later released after relatives paid the police, the detective said.
He told Reyes that he spent the years moving between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
On Monday, Flores told Reyes, he had a bad reaction to heroin he had taken along with some other people. Fearful that he was going to die, the other people threw Flores out of the house, Reyes said.
"He started walking and just passed out," Reyes said. "It just so happened when he fell, he fell in front of a parked car."
A passing crew from a local TV station spotted Flores, and believing that he had been hit by a car, called police.
Rivera, the Laredo police spokesman, said that when officers arrived, Flores was unconscious. He was taken to a hospital and placed under guard after revealing his true identity.
Fort Worth Star Telegram (http://www.star-telegram.com/)