GALVESTON — The 13 deaths ruled homicides in Galveston County last year represented a historic low not seen since the middle 1960s.
The county’s drop in the number of reported homicides continues a trend that saw a 3.8 percent overall national decline in violent crimes reported in 2011 as compared to the previous year, according to data collected by the FBI.
Only 10 of the 13 deaths ruled homicides were the result of injuries that happened in the county. The remaining three involved two prison inmates and a 16-month-old Oklahoma child who died at a Galveston burn center, according to data collected from the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The year 1966 marked the last time the county saw fewer than 14 homicides, and 1964 marked the last time the county saw single-digits, according to data from the medical examiner’s office and the Texas Department of State Health Services Center for Health Statistics.
The 2012 totals fell well short of the 30 killings per year that the county averaged since 1969, or the 26 average annual killings since 1956.
Experts say there isn’t one answer to why violent crime has decreased, and police said a focus on community awareness has aided in the prevention of violent crime.
“It can only be that it’s following national trends, that the population of this region is diverse and, therefore, follows the trends of the rest of the country as well,” said Dr. Stephen Pustilnik, Galveston County’s chief medical examiner.
“We’re not isolated from the rest of the country in either the good or ill that’s plaguing our society.”
Galveston County’s decline in the number of homicides coincides with a similar regional decline. Harris County reported 506 killings in 2009 and saw the number drop to 354 in 2011. And, as of Dec. 26, Harris County had 360 homicides in 2012, according to data from the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.
As suburbs bloom, the rate of homicides has remained relatively low, and there hasn’t been a corresponding increase in the number of homicides, said Alan Bernstein, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office director of public affairs.
Of the 10 homicides that were the result of fatal injuries suffered in Galveston County, two have not resulted in arrests.
Here is a list of people killed in Galveston County, according to the Medical Examiner’s Office:
• Marion Glenn Hines, 50, was the county’s first homicide victim of the year the evening of April 5. Police said Hines was a bystander to a fight in Texas City, and he died of a wound from an errant bullet fired from a gun that hit the ground. Charmon Leon Smith was charged with murder and released from jail on $100,000 bond.
• Timothy Clark Merrill, 44, was shot and killed May 26 by a Houston police officer who arrived at his house on Galveston’s West End and found Merrill inside, police said. The home was ransacked, and Merrill pointed a handgun at the officer, who then opened fire and struck Merrill several times, police said. A grand jury took no action on the case, said Galveston County Criminal District Attorney Jack Roady.
• Robert Mitchell Lyles, 42, was found shot to death the morning of June 9 in a shed behind a vacant house in Texas City. Brandon Marlow Miller, 21, remained jailed on a $1.65 million bond on murder and other charges.
• Dr. Mark K. Holcomb, 61, died June 23 after suffering a single gunshot wound to the stomach at the retired surgeon’s weekend home in Hitchcock. Police arrested Dennis Roy Redding, 64, on a murder charge and he was released on a $150,000 bond.
• Joyce Annette Timler, 73, was found June 28 buried in her backyard in League City. Her death was ruled a homicide, and police arrested Timler’s son, John Scott Timler, 54, on a charge of abuse of a corpse and forgery. He remained jailed on a $102,500 bond.
• Caesar Robert Nunez, 36, died Aug. 20 at the University of Texas Medical Branch of blunt head trauma. Authorities are investigating whether Nunez, a Daily News employee, died as a result of an Aug. 17 altercation in the newspaper’s parking lot. Although Galveston police have a known suspect, the case will be referred to a grand jury.
• Jutina Silvey, 49, was found Sept. 9 on a rock groin in the Gulf. Galveston police said she was beaten and strangled and that her acquaintance, Michael Anthony Alicie, 28, of Texas City was arrested on a murder charge. His bond was set at $100,000. Alicie wasn’t listed as an inmate.
• Thomas Bryan, 29, was found Sept. 10 stabbed once in the chest in the street in front of his mother’s house in La Marque. Police arrested Percy Johnnell Robinson, 49, on a murder charge, and his bond was set at $100,000. Robinson is not listed as a jail inmate.
• Angela Renee Lopez, 42, was fatally shot Sept. 15 outside her residence in Santa Fe. William Ray Parker, 45, a friend of Lopez’s, was charged with murder, police said. He remained jailed on a $400,000 bond.
• Jackie Dean Bergara died Oct. 28 of a knife wound. Galveston police arrested and charged her boyfriend, Richard Allan Beverly, 44, with murder. Beverly remained jailed on a $255,000 bond.