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Family of homicide victim searches for answers 10 years later (Video)

By Jessica Priest
Oct. 21, 2013 at 5:21 a.m.
Updated Oct. 22, 2013 at 5:22 a.m.

Callie Cano sheds a tear for her son, Robert Licerio Jr., who was killed 10 years ago in their apartment by unknown assailants. Several investigators have handled the case through the years. Cano prays her son's case will eventually be solved.

IF YOU GO:

• WHERE: Pavilion on Ben Wilson Street

• WHEN: Thursday

• Music by DJ Awall at 5:30 p.m.

• Drinks and food at 6 p.m.

• Balloon release at 7 p.m.

Prayer service at 7:30 p.m.

• No alcoholic beverages allowed.

• For more information, contact Carol Senclair at 361-655-8337.

TO HELP

Call Crime Stoppers at 361-572-4200 or visit CrimeStoppersVictoria.com.

Hours before bullets whizzed through Callie Cano's apartment on Sam Houston Drive, fatally striking her 14-year-old son, the two reconciled.

Robert Licerio Jr. was a typical teenage boy, dating a girl his mother did not like.

That's why Cano thinks he ran away from home and didn't come back until two weeks later, the day of his death, Oct. 24, 2003.

In retrospect, the fight was silly, she said Monday.

"He was hungry," Cano said, and since it was already late, the two drove to Denny's.

"He ate a big ol' T-bone steak with potatoes and three Cokes, and when I got something, he ate my leftovers," she said.

And he didn't usually sleep on the couch in the den where he was shot, Cano said.

"He was a very clean, neat freak," she said. "He didn't want to sleep in his bed because his sheets were dirty."

Before she switched out the lights, he made one last plea.

"Mom, I can't stay here," Robert said.

"I told him, 'Please, just stay. ... We'll talk about everything in the morning,'" Cano said.

So why the change of heart? That's just one of the many reasons Cano replays that conversation and that night over and over in her mind. She has come up with more questions than answers.

A decade has passed, and neither she nor police know whether Robert was the intended target - let alone who pulled the trigger.

Family and friends will gather Thursday to remember Robert not as a homicide victim but as a shy, good-natured kid.

Cano, 42, never imagined Robert would die of a gunshot wound, especially since she first thought the loud bangs were someone knocking on her window.

When she ran down the two hallways leading into the den, her aunt, who lived in the room closest to Robert, screamed.

"They got Rob! They got Rob!"

He was gasping for air. A nurse who lived nearby rushed in and measured his pulse with her finger. Cano's job was to keep him alert.

"She told me, 'He's still with you. He's still with you,'" Cano said, dabbing her eyes of tears Monday. "I told him, 'Mommy loves you. Hang on.'"

It seemed like an eternity, but the police report says it took paramedics 10 minutes to respond, she said.

They immediately put Robert on a stretcher and took off. Cano had hope until she saw the ambulance's lights and sirens switch off before arriving at Citizens Medical Center.

Cano's daughter, Maria Amador, now 22, was so traumatized by the shooting that she had a seizure in the parking lot.

At one point, doctors were working to revive two of Cano's four children.

Amador survived.

"I didn't think something like that would ever happen to him," Amador said.

The case is still open, and although 10 years have passed, that doesn't necessarily mean it will be harder to crack, said Sgt. Eline Moya of the Victoria Police Department.

"This time, something is going to come out," Cano said.

But so far, police do not have many leads.

A day after the shooting, detectives questioned a group of kids who were pulled over with BB guns in their car. They were cleared as suspects after they said they told detectives they were trying to avenge Robert's death.

Cano's aunt, who saw the suspects flee, also has undergone hypnosis to call up more details from that night.

"She said it was a two-door dark car because one person had to get out to let the other one in," Cano said.

Fed up with the speculation, Cano once asked the detectives to stop calling her.

Now, she knows God will one day tell her who is responsible, and she's confident Amy Grothe, a detective who was recently assigned to the case, will look at things with fresh eyes.

Robert was a well-liked ninth grader at Stroman High School. He often took care of his younger brother, Joshua, who has cerebral palsy. He braided Joshua's unruly pony tail every day before school.

When he wasn't walking his white pit bull named Blanca, he was at Faith Family Church or skating with friends.

"They were there (at Skateworld) every Friday like clockwork. ... He was a big ol' teddy bear," Cano said. "I will never lose faith."

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