Suspected Hastings killer’s criminal past

Antonio Cochran, suspect
Antonio Cochran, suspect

As we reported over the weekend, police arrested Antonio Lamar Cochran for the murder of 18-year-old Zoe Hastings.

In a Saturday press conference, Maj. Max Geron said detectives worked quickly once forensic tests were concluded.

“Late [Friday] night, we received the results from DNA tests conducted on physical evidence recovered from the crime scene. Those results showed a match with an individual in the DNA database.The suspect matched the description of the witness who saw him abduct Zoe from the Walgreens and drive off with her. We gave this information to our detectives assigned to the U.S. Marshall’s Fugitive Apprehension Team and in less than eight hours they were able to locate and arrest him in an apartment in Northeast Dallas early [Saturday] morning.”

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As suspected since late last week, the crime appears to be random. The motive, sexual assault.

A box of flyers was seen during a volunteer fact-finding operation in Dallas, TX on Oct. 15, 2015. Credit: Danny Fulgencio
A box of flyers during a volunteer fact-finding operation. Photo by Danny Fulgencio

“He’s obviously a sexual predator that’s been taken off the streets, hopefully not to do this ever again,” Geron told reporters.

The DNA testing yielded results because Cochran’s criminal history dates back to the late 1990s — felony theft, misdemeanor assault, felony burglary of a building and felony trespassing included — and his DNA is in a database.

Suspect Cochran’s Facebook page is still active and public. It notes that he works at Hooters as a cook, but the restaurant told the Dallas Morning News Saturday that he hasn’t been employed there for several weeks. He also posted on his Facebook page about his time in prison and recently of attending a funeral for his stepmother, whose funeral was the same day as Hastings’ funeral.

“He’s obviously a sexual predator that’s been taken off the streets, hopefully not to do this ever again.”

In 2015 a jury found Cochran not guilty of sexual assault in Bowie County, Texas. Cochran was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl in 2014, but earlier this year was acquitted by a jury. Reports indicate drug possession on the part of both the accuser and Cochran muddied the legal waters, and reportedly, the jury lacked evidence to convict. According to court documents, face Cochran was accused of pulling over and raping his girlfriend’s daughter when he was supposed to be giving her a ride home.

“The independent witnesses and facts of the case simply did not convince the jury that the alleged victim was telling the truth,” Chief Public Defender Rick Shumaker noted in a statement at the time.

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On May 20 the suspect Cochran posted the following on his Facebook page: “[sic] At Miller county … lol they try to send me to prison for 45yrs.. in 05…escaped twice… came back went to DCC then came back made the news paper twice now and visiting I saw a butterfly in hell today…like my boy weezy say …they took the mask off the face of death and started it in his face” (The last part is loosely paraphrased Lil Wayne lyrics). It is unclear whether this is linked to the Bowie County case or something previous (we are looking into Miller County records.

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We have reached out to a juror on the Bowie county trial and are waiting to hear back. (We’ll have a new story if we are able to secure an interview).

We will continue to follow the proceedings. Check back for frequent updates.

A fundraising effort is still underway for the Hastings family.

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  • Guest

    I wonder how the Bowie County jurors feel now that they let go a predator who went out to sexually assault (rape) and murder a young woman who had her young life ahead of her. Shame

  • dormand

    One would hope that there would be a system for police departments to share information on troublesome individuals who move from one jurisdiction to another.

    While this individual was declared not guilty by the jury in the Texarkana criminal case, this could have been from a flawed prosecution case or the makeup of the jury. To get a unanimous vote of twelve individuals that he did it and he will have to go to prison for a long, long time can be incredibly difficult.

    If the Dallas police had received a heads-up that a bad guy from Texarkana had moved to Dallas, the DPD could have been able to apply some resources to monitor this high risk individual.