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Former Fort Bliss soldier gets life sentence for role in murder of 16-year-old TX boy

Gavel (Observer-Dispatch/TNS)

One of two former Fort Bliss soldiers who bragged about the killing of a 16-year-old El Paso boy in 2016 will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Eric Duvall was convicted Thursday for capital murder, which in Texas comes with a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole, for his role in the murder of Michael Anthony Tapia in a drug-related incident. Duvall and Tyler Hall, who previously pleaded guilty to murder and is serving a 50-year sentence, were both active duty military members stationed at Fort Bliss at the time of the murder.

El Paso County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched Jan. 31, 2016, to Flagger Street and Tangerine Avenue in Montana Vista in reference to an unresponsive person and found Tapia dead from a single gunshot wound to the back of the neck. He’s believed to have died two weeks before he was found.

Deputies found two spent .223 caliber casings near the victim, according to court documents.

Tapia’s mother told deputies the boy had been threatened by someone named “Duvee” over a drug deal and said the man was a soldier in the U.S. Army. She provided a text message she had sent to the man.

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A witness told deputies Hall believed Tapia had stolen drugs from him and that he and Duvall confronted Tapia on Jan. 16 at a home seven miles from where his body was found. They then left with him for about an hour and a half, according to the documents.

The witness said Hall and Duvall returned to the home without Tapia and “Hall was seen laughing and stated that he killed the victim.” He said Hall allegedly used an “AR rifle” and shot him in the head twice.

Duvall then allegedly told the witness Hall killed Tapia and Hall later allegedly said “I shot him in the head. I did a double tap on his head.”

The witness said Duvall had shot a man the previous year with a handgun. While police had filed a report on that shooting, the victim in that case declined to press charges and the case was closed.

Duvall and Hall were later arrested and booked in El Paso County Jail under $1 million bonds. Hall was a private and Duvall a sergeant in the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss. According to court documents, Duvall had been in the Army about five years and Hall, a year and a half.

Tapia had attended Jefferson High School more than three years before his death and later attended Delta Academy. He also briefly attended Americas High School.

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© 2019 the El Paso Times