Houston Man Sentenced to Life Without Parole for 2021 Theater Complex Murder

Houston Man Sentenced to Life Without Parole for 2021 Theater Complex Murder
Nicholas Dwayne Thomas

In a verdict announced by Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, Nicholas Dwayne Thomas, 26, has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 2021 murder of 37-year-old Miguel Vasquez near Spring Branch.

Thomas was convicted of capital murder by a Harris County jury late Friday, automatically receiving a life sentence for the shooting that occurred on April 4, 2021. Vasquez, a father of two, was fatally shot during an armed robbery outside a theater complex at the Marq-E Entertainment Center on the Katy Freeway.

District Attorney Ogg emphasized the impact of gun violence on the community, stating, “Our job is to seek justice, and jurors agreed that this killer should never be on the street again.”

The case gained national attention when investigators identified Thomas as the perpetrator after his toddler accidentally shot himself with the same gun used to kill Vasquez. The child survived the incident.

On the day of the murder, Vasquez and his 10-year-old daughter were leaving Dave and Buster’s when Thomas, armed with a gun, approached Vasquez, put him in a chokehold, and demanded his watch. After a struggle, Thomas shot and killed Vasquez before fleeing the scene.

Four days later, Thomas’s toddler sustained a gunshot wound to the leg from the same gun. Thomas, cooperating with authorities investigating the accidental shooting, turned over the weapon. Ballistics testing by the Houston Forensic Science Center revealed that the gun used in both incidents was the same.

The Houston Police Department’s homicide division was alerted, leading to Thomas’s arrest for the murder of Vasquez. Further evidence, including Thomas’s DNA on the victim’s watch, fingerprints on the victim’s car, and cell phone records placing him at the scene during the murder, contributed to the prosecution’s case.

Assistant District Attorneys Chandler Raine and Natalia Leon, assigned to the DA’s Homicide Unit, prosecuted the case in a two-day trial. Raine expressed gratitude to the jury for their service, stating, “We were honored to be responsible for seeing that justice was done for this family, and are thankful to the jury for their service and attentiveness, which led to the right verdict.”