Said & Done



  Randal Lee recently persuaded a Bowie County jury to acquit his client of aggravated robbery and aggravated assault. The State’s theory was that Randal’s client was the ring leader of a home invasion that resulted in the robbery and sexual assault. A co-defendant had confessed and implicated Randal’s client, and a “friend” of the accused purportedly heard him confess. Law enforcement arrived at the scene of the offense as the perpetrators were leaving the premises. The State started with an offer of 45 years, which came down to 20 years before the trial. Ultimately, the friend decided against testifying against Randal’s client, pleading the Fifth before the jury. The snitch who overheard the “confession” wasn’t believable and the jury did the right thing. Congratulations, Randal.

  Ryan Deaton and Steve Taylor secured a life sentence for their client, Kimberly Saenz, who was convicted of capital murder in Angelina County. Mrs. Saenz was accused of killing five dialysis patients at DaVita Dialysis. The alle­gation was that Saenz injected the patients with bleach, causing their deaths. The State’s case consisted primarily of testimony from two witnesses who claimed to have seen Saenz inject bleach into the dialysis lines of two of the five victims who died. The State called an expert from the Hamner Institute in North Carolina, who testified that when blood reacts with bleach it releases an amino acid called 3-chlorotyrosine, which was extremely high in most of the victims. An FDA expert also testified that most of the dialysis lines used by the victims were positive for bleach. The State made a plea offer of 35 years in the summer of 2011, which was rejected by the defendant. The first vote after deliberations on guilt-innocence was split, but the weaker jurors were overcome by those who believed the State’s theory. Excellent work, Ryan and Steve.

  A big shout out to Fort Worth’s Tim Evans for being honored recently with the Blackstone Award, presented by fellow attorneys of the Tarrant County Bar Association and Fort Worth–Tarrant County Young Lawyers Association. Tim, of course, is past president of TCDLA and was inducted into the TCDLA Hall of Fame in 2007. This latest award is given to a lawyer who has shown consistent ability, integrity, and courage as a lawyer, and who has practiced at least 15 years. That sounds like Tim, all right. Congratulations, Tim, on another well-deserved honor.

  Simon Purnell of Corpus Christi obtained a “not guilty” verdict in a repeat felony offender aggravated robbery (deadly weapon—knife) case in the 156th Judicial District Court, Bee County, in. His client had been accused of robbing a Beeville “eight liner” facility. However, the police were unable to download the in-store video so they were only able to produce a poor video of the in-store video screen. Further, the only eyewitness the State was able to rely on failed to notice the Defendant was missing an eye when she identified him in court. The eye had been removed while the Defendant was in custody waiting for trial. The poor video and flimsy eyewitness identification led to the jury finding Defendant not guilty.

  Curtis Barton of the State Counsel for Offenders recently won a not-guilty verdict in Wichita Falls. His client, John Cope Smith, was charged with possession of a deadly weapon at the Allred Unit. Smith was faced with a range of punishment of 2–20 years due to his criminal history. The best offer made prior to trial was 5 years. Barton developed conflicts in the testimony of the 5 corrections officers who testified and was able to point out that parts of their testimony didn’t make common sense. Mr. Smith had to testify and basically claimed that he had been set up by the guards, and that he didn’t possess the shank. A great win under very difficult circumstances. Congratulations, Curtis.

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