Inmate who ambushed Harris County Detention Officer will now serve 3 life sentences

Christian Dillard agreed to a revised settlement after assaulting the detention officer last week.

HOUSTON – Days after nearly beating a Harris County detention officer to death, Christian Dillard has accepted a plea deal in that case and two others, including capital murder.

Dillard appeared in court Tuesday morning on capital murder charges for killing Matthew Harris during a robbery at a Greenspoint-area gas station in 2020. Prosecutors said Dillard even took Harris’ shoes after killing him.

During court, Dillard confronted Harris’ mother who said her son had two children and was a caring person whose loss left her devastated. Dillard apologized to the family and said he would never forgive himself.

Harris’ mother also spoke during the victim impact statement portion of Tuesday’s hearing and said her son was deaf and wore a hearing aid. She said she won’t forgive Dillard for what she did to her son.

Dillard’s plea deal included three life sentences for the aggravated robbery and murder of Harris, and aggravated assault on a public official for beating Officer J. Valdiviez during an ambush in a prison stairway on Friday.

Records showed it was the fourth time Dillard assaulted a detention officer inside the prison, but as part of the settlement, the other cases were dropped.

Dillard will be eligible for parole in 30 years. He was escorted from the courtroom by two officers in heavy tactical gear because of his violent history, prosecutors said.

“No number of years will ever be enough for them (the victims) to regain what was lost. Hopefully (the settlement) will give them peace of mind and some accountability for what they have done and allow them to get on with their lives,” Assistant District Attorney Joshua Raygor said.

KHOU 11 spoke to Valdiviez on the phone as he continues to recover from the attack in which he landed.

“I’m not going to wait for someone else to get hurt or for someone else to have the same accident,” Valdiviez said.

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez spoke with Valdiviez, who also addressed some of the concerns via his Twitter account on Monday. Gonzalez said the sheriff’s office works hard to keep the prison safe for everyone, but there are challenges.

TO KNOW MORE: HCSO Detention Officer Nearly Beaten To Death By Inmate With History Of Assault

“Not an easy task in an overcrowded facility housing more than 800 people charged with murder or capital murder,” Gonzalez wrote.

This isn’t the first time KHOU 11 has reported trouble at the Harris County Jail. In February, it was found not to meet statewide safety requirements by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. The prison has partly blamed staffing problems for this.

That same month, the FBI launched an investigation into the deaths of inmates at the prison. At least 10 people have died in custody this year and at least 27 died last year, the most in nearly two decades, according to county records from the Texas Justice Initiative.

According to prosecutor Joshua Raygor, the state withdrew its earlier settlement offer following Dillard’s actions over the weekend. On Tuesday, Dillard negotiated and accepted a new plea deal.

Meanwhile, Valdiviez said he has no plans to quit his job.

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