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Trial in 'cold case' murder begins Tuesday

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SMITH COUNTY (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - The trial for a man accused in a 1999 Smith County "cold case" murder begins Tuesday in Judge Christie Kennedy's 114th District courtroom. Shams Emil Masters, 34, who had to be extradited from a federal prison in Colorado where he was serving time for seven bank robberies, faces up to life up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine if he is convicted of murder, Smith County Assistant District Attorney Whitney Tharpe said today.

In February 1999, Masters, then 20, was arrested for the murder of 18-year-old William Thomas Young II, whose body was found face down in a grove of trees on Cedarwood Circle in the Woodlands Estates subdivision in southern Smith County.
"We arrested our suspect back in 1999, and a grand jury did indict him, but upon further investigation, the case was dismissed by the former District Attorney (Jack Skeen Jr.) due to insufficient evidence," Smith County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Bobby Garmon said in April.

Detectives in 1999 determined that Young had been dead of a gunshot wound several days before his body was found. According to a Tyler Morning Telegraph story in 1999, the original arrest warrant affidavit stated Masters believed Young stole several hundred dollars from his home during a Super Bowl party. The 1999 warrant said a friend of Masters said Young would "get what was coming to him."

Other articles from the time of the homicide indicate that the victim was indicted for selling crack to an undercover Tyler police officer and was wanted on several felony warrants. The investigation also revealed blood in a vehicle that Masters was seen driving at the time.

Masters was arrested in 2008 in Fort Worth for his involvement in the robberies, which he committed after he finished serving a six-year prison term for pleading guilty to possession of methamphetamines in 1999, according to the Tyler Morning Telegraph archives.

Garmon said after the defendant was released from jail, Masters left East Texas and was living under a bridge in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with a group of homeless people. It was at that time that Masters began robbing banks in the Fort Worth area, Garmon said.

Staff writer Kenneth Dean contributed to this story.
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