RICHMOND – On March
12, 2019, Earl James Semien plead guilty to the charges of Murder and Unlawful Possession
of a Firearm by a Felon before being sentenced to 35 years and 10 years in
prison, respectively. The 54-year-old Katy
man was charged with the 2016 Christmas Eve execution of U.S. Air Force veteran
Christopher Battelli. Present in the
courtroom for the plea were many of Battelli’s friends and family members.
According to Assistant
District Attorney Lesleigh Morton, Semien had been indicted for the murder of
Christopher Battelli, 29, who was shot once in the head as he sat in his parked
vehicle outside of the Southland Bar and Grill in Katy, Texas. While the two
men were acquaintances, a motive for the killing was never discovered.
According to a
witness, Semien had possessed a firearm for approximately three weeks before
the murder. Immediately following the murder, Semien handed the firearm to a
friend and told the friend to “get rid of it because it had a body on it.”
Semien was a felon at the time of the murder, which by law prohibited him from
legally possessing a firearm.
served our country and received numerous decorations for his service, only to
be executed in cold blood by someone he knew, for no apparent reason,” said lead
prosecutor Lesleigh Morton. “Hopefully Semien’s sentence will begin to bring
Chris’s family closure, but I know they, and we, will always wonder why Semien
executed Chris as Chris sat unsuspectingly in his vehicle. It is haunting to
think of the last few minutes of Chris’s life, but make no mistake about it –
he will forever be remembered as the kind, gentle, fun-loving person that
touched the lives of those around him.”
prosecuted in the 400th District Court before Presiding Judge Maggie
Jaramillo. Murder in this case is a first-degree felony punishable from 15 to 99
years or life in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in this case
is a third-degree felony punishable from 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine up
to $10,000. Semien was not probation eligible,
and under Texas law, must serve at least half of his sentence before being
considered for parole.