EXCLUSIVE: Mother speaks about son's murder for the first time - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

EXCLUSIVE: Mother speaks about son's murder for the first time

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(KYTX) - The mother of a man shot and killed outside Broadway Square Mall in Tyler shares her story for the first time.
23-year-old Chris Mass died in February. His mother LaTrese Mass sat down with CBS 19's Courtney Friedman, who joins us now.

It was, the last seven months have been tough for the entire mass family. Especially now, a week before the trial begins for Chris's suspected killer Ricky Neal Jr.
Latrise mass tells me about the pain of losing her son, and how she is preparing to re-hash his death in the week ahead. 

"Chris was our first everything. He was my first boy and my parents' first grandson. He was the first great great grandson," says Mass. 
To his family -- he was the jokester.

"Just really happy go lucky I guess you could say" 
To his community he was the star athlete.

"He played football, basketball."

But the biggest part of his short life was being a dad.

"He has two children. A little girl that's 4 and his little boy is three or four months old."
When Chris was shot and killed back in February, Christopher Junior hadn't even been born yet.

"Chris's son he'll never be able to meet him, touch him, talk to him. He'll just have pictures." 
Chris's mom, LaTrese Mass, clutches her son's pictures, remembering the worst day of her life.

"I didn't know that when I hung up the phone with him, that was going to be the last time I talked to him."
LaTrese has spent the last seven months trying to piece together what happened at Broadway Square Mall that February morning.

"He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time because my understanding is that Chris went to the mall by himself." 
Police say an argument started between 25-year-old Ricky Neal Jr. and two other men, about a Twitter message Neal sent to another man's girlfriend. Mass just happened to be nearby.

"Chris had nothing to do with this, Chris was saying himself 'I'm not trying to fight you.' 

But when Neal allegedly opened fire in the parking lot it was Chris Mass he hit. He was immediately arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault.
His trial starts October 7 an  inconvenient coincidence for the Mass family.

"Starts on his birthday."

"On the day Chris would have turned 24, LaTrese will be in court." 

"All I want is for justice to be served. I know whatever happens won't bring my baby back."
But she is hoping for answers and closure. The whole family is nervous and stressed about the trial.
But they plan to stick together and lean on each other for support, like they have for the last seven months.

LaTrese Mass says the first time she saw Neal was the day her son died. She watched police arrest him at the mall. She also saw him at an August hearing.. But says they have never talked to each other. 

She tells me she is mentally preparing to see him again next Monday.

Prosecutors did not offer Neal any kind of plea bargain at that August hearing.
If convicted, he faces life in prison. He will stay in the Smith County Jail until his trial begins Monday morning at 9.


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