Texas is taking the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” seriously. A Harris County criminal trial was postponed recently when prosecutors discovered crucial evidence about a key witness that potentially damages the witness’ credibility. The witness was expected to testify at trial against the defendant.
The defendant, a lawyer, now to be tried in late July, is facing criminal charges for solicitation of capital murder. Allegations are that the man hired hit men on three occasions to murder his wife. Each attempt was unsuccessful, although the wife was hit with one bullet to her stomach in the third effort.
The witness set to testify against the accused is the man’s former mistress and allegedly acted as a contact between the defendant and the hit men. However, new evidence uncovered by prosecutors indicates that the witness could have been involved in other murder-for-hire schemes unrelated to the wife.
Texas law obligates prosecutors to inform defendants’ attorneys when they have information that tends to negate the guilt of the accused. Although prosecutors declined to comment in depth, the trial has been postponed to allow for further investigation.
While the wife filed for divorce sometime in 2010, the two have since reconciled. The wife is expected to testify on behalf of her husband at trial, alleging he had no part in the schemes. She does not believe he was involved in the shooting.
A defendant is innocent until proven guilty. Prosecutors have no legal right to charge an accused on less than probable cause, nor are they permitted to withhold evidence from the defense attorney that could help the defendant’s case. The consequences of any conviction, but especially a murder or murder solicitation conviction have the potential to be life ruining. An experienced legal advocate can help ensure that a person’s rights are fully realized, so that unjust convictions are less likely to occur.
Source: Houston Chronicle, “Stern murder-for-hire trial postponed to investigate mistress,” Brian Rogers, April 11, 2012.