- Associated Press - Thursday, June 5, 2014

HOUSTON (AP) - Authorities announced Thursday they have made an arrest in a nearly 30-year-old murder case in which they say the suspect staged a break-in at his Houston-area home to cover up a fatal shooting.

Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia said his agency’s cold case unit has charged William Porter, 51, with murder in the August 1986 slaying of Gerald Oncale.

Porter originally told investigators he shot Oncale in self-defense after Oncale, 30, had broken into his home, said Sgt. Eric Clegg.

“I don’t think the original investigators were quite sure what happened. It wasn’t until we reconstructed things, and really looked at the autopsy findings … that it became clear this was not the way the homeowner described it taking place,” he said.

A review of the autopsy report showed Oncale’s gunshot wounds didn’t match Porter’s claim of shooting the victim at the doorway, Clegg said.

Investigators re-interviewed Porter’s girlfriend, who had said she was asleep at the time of the shooting. Clegg said the girlfriend changed her story, saying she saw Porter shoot Oncale, who had been sitting on a couch, after the two started arguing about an old debt.

“It was over a debt, and basically the victim talking to the defendant’s girlfriend that night is what sparked it,” Clegg said. “Mr. Porter actually did a pretty good job at staging that scene to appear as a burglary.”

Porter, who has a long criminal history, is currently at a prison in Moberly, Missouri, serving a seven year sentence on a drug charge.

Clegg said officials hope to extradite Porter to Texas.

Oncale’s case is among more than 500 that the cold case unit has been re-examining since it was reformed five years ago after Garcia took office.

Garcia said since the unit was reformed, it has cleared 20 cases and “been able to provide justice to 24 victims.”

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Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/juanlozano70

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