Calls for Balch Springs officer to be arrested unlikely to be met, experts say

FOX4News.com Staff – May 4, 2017

A rising chorus of voices is calling for fired Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver to be arrested and charged with murder.

But legal experts said it would be extremely rare for an officer to be arrested before a grand jury sees any evidence.

Jordan Edwards, 15, was a passenger in a car when he was shot in the head with a rifle and killed by Oliver last Saturday night. The car Edwards was in was driving away from the officers when he was shot, not toward the officers as police initially claimed.

Former Assistant D.A. Toby Shook has both vigorously prosecuted and defended police in officer shootings.

“Usually when a police officer is involved in a deadly shooting they refer it to the grand jury. They don’t make an arrest,” Shook said. “But there are some occasions where the D.A.’s office or the sheriff could say we’re going to make an arrest just like any other case,” Shook said.

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Dallas basketball player’s killer arrested for sexual assault

April 3, 2017, by Fox4News

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.

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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 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.”

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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

Jury Gives Bernie 99 Years In Murder Case

Late Friday night an East Texas jury sentenced Bernie Tiede to 99 years in prison for the murder of Marjorie Nugent. The case was made famous in the 2011 movie Bernie. The movie added new lawyers on Tiede’s case who were successful in getting the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to give Tiede a new punishment trial.

The punishment trial lasted three weeks and was hard fought by experienced lawyers on both sides. Tiede’s defense team tried to persuade jurors Tiede had been abused by a family member when he was a child, which triggered a murderous response in him when Nugent became very controlling and abusive. Continue reading

Bernie Punshment Trial Continues

The state has rested its case in the punishment trial of Bernie Tiede’s. Tiede’s criminal defense attorneys have begun presenting their defense case and hope to convince the jury that Tiede was a victim of childhood sexual abuse which contributed to his mental state when he shot his victim. The defense will also try to portray the victim, Marjorie Nugent, as a mean spirited bully who mentally abused Tiede.

The defense called the movie director Richard Linklater, who made this Bernie famous with his 2011 movie and set off a chain of events which led to the reversal of his life sentence and a new punishment trial. Linklater testified to Tiede’s good character and their friendship. On cross-examination prosecutors were able to score points for their case as well. Under questioning Linklater admitted his movie version of the events left out the theft of thousands of dollars Tiede committed prior to and after Nugent’s murder. Continue reading

Dallas Woman Arrested on Capital Murder Charge in Mexico

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Photo: FBI

Mexican authorities arrested Dallas murder fugitive Brenda Delgado Friday evening. Delgado was wanted on a capital murder warrant for the murder of dentist Kendra Hatcher, who was shot on September 2, 2015 in her Uptown garage. Law enforcement has alleged that Delgado paid Krystopher Love to murder Hatcher because Hatcher was dating her ex-boyfriend. Another woman, Crystal Cortez, has also been charged with capital murder and is alleged to have been the get away driver.

Delgado had been questioned by the Dallas Police early in the investigation but not arrested. Soon after her interrogation, Delgado fled to Mexico (she is a Mexican citizen). Just last week the FBI put Delgado on their 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list. The publicity surrounding that announcement, as well as the $100,000 reward, probably led to Delgado’s arrest shortly after being put on the list. Continue reading

Jury Rejects Fort Worth Man’s Self-Defense Claim

This week a Tarrant County jury rejected Johnny Patton’s self defense claims and found him guilty of the murder of Richard Slatkin and sentenced him to life in prison. The trial included testimony of a complicated love triangle. Patton was dating Slatkin’s ex-wife. The two men were jealous of one another and apparently both had tempers. Prior to the shooting Patton had called the police numerous times telling them Slatkin had threatened him and wanted the police to arrest him.

Prosecutors argued that the 911 calls showed that Patton was hunting Slakin and intentionally murdering him rather that acting in self-defense. On one 911 call the operator asked Patton if Slakin was armed and he relied ” I will tell you in a minute”. Texas self-defense law can work in a defendant’s favor but it is still a tough defense in a murder case.

Texas law does allow prior violent acts committed by the victim when there is a factual dispute of who the first aggressor is. Also prior threats or run ins between the two parties can be admissible. By the same token prior bad acts by the defendant may also become admissible which could severely hurt the defendant. In this case the prosecution was able to put on the defendant’s estranged wife who told the jury that Patton always carried a gun and had been violent with her on many occasions in the past. This type of testimony had to damage the Patton’s self-defense claim. I am sure the admission of that evidence will be a major area the defendant’s  appeal will be  focused on.

In self defense cases a jury is instructed to consider the evidence from the defendants point of view. However they are also instructed that they must believe a reasonable man would have acted the in the same manner. In this case it appears that the 911 calls and the defendant’s wives testimony destroyed his self defense claim. Once the jury believed this was an intentional killing done out of malice they showed no mercy.

Dying Declarations In Texas Murder Cases

A murder case in Pennsylvania focuses on an interesting hearsay exception that sometimes comes up in murder cases. The exception is called a “Dying Declaration“. In this particular case Darren Morales was arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. The victim had her throat cut but before dying told a friend who was trying to save her life that her boyfriend “killed her”. She died shortly after she made the statement.

Normally an out of court statement by a victim isn’t admissible unless there is a specific hearsay exception. In this case that exception is called the dying declaration. The Texas rule is found in Texas Rules of Evidence 804(b)(2). Statement Under the Belief of Imminent Death. In a prosecution for homicide or in a civil case, a statement that the declarant, while believing the declarant’s death to be imminent, made about its cause or circumstances.” Almost all jurisdictions have a similar hearsay exception. The courts admit this type of hearsay because they reason it is reliable. The logic is if a person knows they are about to die they won’t falsely accuse a person for being responsible for their death.

The statement isn’t automatically admitted into evidence. The defense should always ask for a hearing outside the juries presence for the trial court to determine if the statement is admissible. Ideally this hearing should take place at a pretrial hearing so that the defense will know before jury selection if the statement is coming into evidence. This will allow the criminal defense attorney to plan how he will conduct jury selection and cross-examination.