Moving Ken Paxton’s trials away from friendly turf a rare outcome seen in few famous cases

Dallas Morning News, April 1, 2017

AUSTIN — It’s rare for a judge in Texas to move a criminal trial, and even less common to move it because the jury might be biased in favor of the accused.

That’s what makes the decision to move Ken Paxton’s upcoming trials out of Collin County so unusual. He joins the ranks of a handful of others who lost the chance to be tried in their backyard because of a real or perceived home-field advantage.

“The famous one was Bernie,” said criminal defense attorney Toby Shook, referring to convicted murderer Bernie Tiede. Well-liked at home in the small East Texas town of Carthage and lionized in Richard Linklater’s 2011 film Bernie, Tiede saw his second murder trial moved after prosecutors argued the jury pool could be tainted in his favor.

“It’s hard to get a change of venue granted if the other side’s opposing it,” Shook said, noting the decision is entirely up to the presiding judge. “Having the prosecution ask for a change of venue is even more rare.”

Click here to read the complete story at the Dallas Morning News

Posted in DWI

Dallas basketball player’s killer arrested for sexual assault

April 3, 2017, by Fox4News

DALLAS – A former basketball player at Dallas Madison High School who was charged with murder in 2014 is now accused of sexual assault.

Jonathan Turner was arrested last week at Ranger College, where he now plays college basketball. Ranger is about 80 miles southwest of Fort Worth or 60 miles east of Abilene.

According to the Associated Press, a woman told police she woke up early one morning to find Turner having sex with her. She said he threatened her if she went to authorities.

Click here for the complete story from Fox4 News, Dallas

Police arrest boyfriend of missing college student after discovering human remains

LynnAnne Nguyen, FOX4News.com, Feb 4, 2017

The boyfriend of missing college student Zuzu Verk has been arrested, one day after police say they found human remains in a shallow grave in West Texas.

Police in the town of Alpine say 26-year-old Robert Fabian was taken into custody Saturday morning on a warrant for tampering with or fabricating physical evidence by concealing a human corpse.

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Jury deliberates in trial of former Garland officer

Rebecca Lopez, WFAA, December 16, 2016

Defense attorneys shouted at prosecutors during closing arguments as emotions ran high in the trial of Garland police officer Patrick Tuter, who has been charged with manslaughter in connection with a 2012 police chase.

Robert Rogers shouted, “Prove your case, Prove your case.”

Defense attorneys were direct. They told the jury that Tuter made split second decisions to save his life and fellow officers lives while dealing with a dangerous felon high on meth.

Defense attorney Toby Shook said, “For more than 30 minutes, he drove the most dangerous ways possible, running lights, stop signs. It was like a missile out there.”

Click here for the complete story on News8

Dallas Murder Cases On the Rise

Murder cases in Dallas are on the rise this year. This trend has occurred in many major cities across the United States. The Dallas police Department is putting high priority on solving murder cases and has recently revived their cold case unit. The cold case unit  investigates unsolved homicides. There is no statute of limitations on a murder charge so the unit sometimes investigates cases that were committed 30 years ago.

Murder charges are the most serious a citizen can face under Texas law. The punishment range is 5 to 99 years or Life in prison. A person convicted of murder in Texas is not eligible for parole. The Dallas District Attorney’s office has an intake prosecutor who’s sole responsibility is the working with local police agencies in all murder investigations and determining when to move forward with a murder charge  and seek indictment at the grand jury.

If you are arrested or come under investigation for a murder charge it is crucial that you seek advice from an experienced criminal attorney as soon as possible. That is the only way to protect your self. Individuals often waive their valuable constitutional rights when the police first come in contact with them. They believe they must speak to the authorities or they will be appear guilty. Speak with a criminal lawyer before you talk to anyone.

Posted in DWI

History made with new Dallas County DA appointment (News8)

Lauren Zakalik, WFAA

“And I thought God, I can do this, and I can serve Dallas County in a magnificent way,” says Faith Johnson. They were some of her very first words Johnson shared publicly since being announced as Dallas County’s new district attorney.

“I’ll put my hat in the ring because it was important for Dallas County,” Johnson says. “I saw the history of what was happening in Dallas County from DA to DA to DA.”

The former judge and prosecutor is taking the reins of a department in need. The Dallas County DA’s office has had some tumultuous years lately. Most recently, former District Attorney Susan Hawk stepped down after a very public battle with depression.

“She needs to restore stability,” says attorney Toby Shook.

Shook has known Johnson since the 80s, when they worked together in the district attorney’s office. Shook says one of the first items of business Johnson will face is restoring morale.

“They’re in desperate need of leadership, someone… they can follow, and I think Faith Johnson is the type of person that can do that,” Shook says.

Click here for the complete story at News8

Flag burning case began with incident during Republican Convention in Dallas

James Rose, FOX4News

The court case that wound up protecting the right to burn an American began with an incident in Dallas during the 1984 Republican National Convention.

A protester named Gregory Lee Johnson burned the American flag in front of city hall and was arrested. The Supreme Court eventually ruled in 1989 that flag burning was a protected form of free speech under the constitution.

But on Tuesday, president-elect Donald Trump ignited another controversy by calling for consequences for the act. He tweeted “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”

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Former Ellis County fireman avoids jail in sex assault of colleague; deal called ‘terrible message’

Naheed Rajwani, Staff writer / Dallas Morning News / November 10, 2016

A former Ellis County fireman pleaded guilty Thursday to his role in the sexual assault of a male colleague at a firehouse last year.

But advocates for sexual assault victims say the plea deal, which proposed that he get two years’ probation and that charges for seven other suspects be dropped, is unusual and unsettling.

“We look toward firefighters, even if they’re volunteer firefighters, as heroes and people who really help us in need,” said Bobbie Villareal, a former Dallas County prosecutor and former head of the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center. “And for them to victimize a colleague like that is extremely disturbing.”

She said she believes that the deal is outrageous and would send a “terrible message.”

Keith Edward Wisakowsky originally faced felony sex assault charges in the case, which generated local and national headlines.

Under the deal, Wisakowsky plead guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge in exchange for two years’ probation. Charges against four other firemen accused of participating in the assault, a woman accused of filming it and the two fire chiefs accused of an attempted cover-up will be dropped as part of the deal.

Toby Shook, Wisakowsky’s attorney, said he didn’t find the plea offer surprising based on what he knew of the case.

He said it appeared that prosecutors offered the deal “based on the totality of the facts and what they knew of their victim and his credibility.” He didn’t elaborate.

Click here for the complete story at the Dallas Morning News (paywall)

Court documents: Dentist murder mastermind had drug cartel ties (Fox4 News)

James Rose FOX4News.com/ October 7, 2016

DALLAS, Texas – Court documents say a woman accused of ordering a hit on a Dallas dentist promised money and drugs to her alleged accomplices.

FBI agents returned 34-year old Brenda Delgado back to Dallas from Mexico Thursday afternoon. She’s charged with capital murder in the shooting death of Dallas dentist Kendra Hatcher.

Continue reading

Posted in DWI

Judge to sentence Christina Morris’ kidnapper; jury dismissed (Fox4 News)

Natalie Solis reports / By: FOX4News.com Staff

McKINNEY, Texas – The man convicted of kidnapping Christina Morris two year ago will be sentenced by a judge later this week.

In court Tuesday morning, Enrique Arochi said he wanted to waive his right to a jury sentence. He told the judge that he was not pressured or coerced into making the decision and he understands it means he no longer has the possibility of probation.

Judge Mark Rusch approved Arochi’s request. He thanked members of the jury for their service and dismissed them.

“You job is done,” he told jurors. Continue reading