A Potter County man's convoluted journey through the justice system came to an end on Monday as he pled guilty to a murder he didn't commit.

On January 9, 2018, Ruben Ryel Rios and Clayton Jerrell Morgan, 36, were in the act of robbing La Bella Pizza at 3801 Olsen when an employee confronted them with a firearm.

Morgan had reportedly been armed with a silver handgun when he entered the building through a back door. He had grabbed an employee's sweatshirt and brandished the firearm as as he forced the employee towards the front.

As the employee approached the doorway, another employee observed the imminent threat posed by Morgan and confronted the two intruders with his firearm. Morgan was said to point his pistol at the armed employee, who then shot him.

Morgan was transported to a nearby hospital where he later died. The silver handgun was later found to be a pellet gun that had been altered to appear realistic. Rios fled the scene but was later found by police in a nearby parking lot and booked into Potter County Detention Center on a murder charge, due to his participation in the robbery that resulted in Morgan's death.

The charge stemmed from a provision in Texas code that allows a person to be charged with murder if they are involved in the commission of a felony crime that causes a death. With this rule, an individual can be charged with murder despite having no physical involvement with their co-conspirator's manner of death.

The next month, a Potter County grand jury no-billed the employee, finding he had acted in self-defense. In the same proceedings, Rios' felony murder charge was changed to aggravated robbery and subsequently indicted.

The then-Potter County District Attorney Randall Sims was quoted as saying his office "felt the facts better suit the aggravated robbery, which was the underlying offense for the felony murder”


However, in November 2019, Rios was re-indicted for the murder charge, according to court records. He was released on bond after his indictment and the record shows that Ryan Brown was retained as Rios' attorney.

Court documents show that the parties had anticipated a jury trial on May 13, 2024. But at a pretrial hearing on April 26th, the defendant accepted a plea bargain.

Ruben Ryel Rios appeared in 320th District Court on Monday and pled guilty to the charge of murder and was sentenced to 20 years confinement in TDCJ.

The felony murder rule is a controversial area of Texas law. While it is utilized by both Potter and Randall County courts, the unpredictable twists and turns this case has taken throughout the years has served to make the conviction of Rios the most notable example to date.

LOOK: 12 Unsolved Homicides by the Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers currently have 12 homicides that have gone cold and have not been solved or the suspect apprehended. These cases stem back to 1978.

If you have any information regarding any of the homicides below you are encouraged to call Texas Crimestoppers at 1-800-252-TIPS (8477) or you can submit a tip online here.

Gallery Credit: Lori Crofford/TSM Amarillo

More From 101.9 The Bull