Quantcast
Home U.S. News Judge Frees Former Dallas Police Officer Charged With Capital Murder

Judge Frees Former Dallas Police Officer Charged With Capital Murder

0
Judge Frees Former Dallas Police Officer Charged With Capital Murder

The decision came after a prosecutor conceded that he did not have enough evidence, “as we sit here today,” to pursue the charges against Bryan Riser.

A judge ordered that a former Dallas police officer be released from jail on Wednesday after ruling that no probable cause existed to support charges that he had hired a man to kidnap and kill two people.

The decision by the judge, Audrey Faye Moorehead of Dallas County Criminal Court, came after a prosecutor had conceded that he did not have enough evidence to pursue the two counts of capital murder that the Dallas police had announced last month.

“We have an obligation — under the United States Constitution, under the Texas Constitution, under the Code of Criminal Procedure, under our duty as prosecutors — to see that justice is done,” the prosecutor, Jason Fine, said in court. “If we get to a point in any case, no matter who the defendant is, no matter who the witnesses are, that we feel there is insufficient probable cause, we have to alert the defense and alert the court. And we have to do something. We can’t just sit by.”

The former officer, Bryan Riser, was charged last month, the police said, after a witness said that Mr. Riser had hired him to kill Albert Douglas, 61, and Liza Saenz, 31, both in 2017, and dump their bodies in the Trinity River.

The city’s police chief, Edgardo Garcia, had declined last month to describe the relationship between Mr. Riser and the victims, but he said the killings had been connected to Mr. Riser’s “off-duty conduct,” not his police work.

The evidence against Mr. Riser included “co-defendant statements, accomplice testimony and insufficient corroboration of those statements,” Mr. Fine said in court.

“That’s the reality of where we are,” he said. “And under the law, those statements alone are not sufficient.”

Mr. Fine said the police had made it clear that the investigation into the killings remained active.

“I have no idea where this investigation is going to lead,” he said. “And if there’s sufficient probable cause down the line, we will take the case, we will put it in front of the grand jury, we will get an indictment, we will take it to trial.”

He added, “But as we sit here today, we do not have that evidence.”

The Dallas County district attorney, John Creuzot, also acknowledged “insufficient corroboration of co-defendant statements and accomplice testimony to prosecute the case.”

“This does not mean the investigation is closed,” he said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our work with the Dallas Police Department on this or any other cases that are investigated in the city of Dallas.”

Mr. Riser’s lawyer, Toby Shook, said his client had walked out of jail on Wednesday.

“Obviously, he is very grateful that the charges were discharged,” Mr. Shook said in an interview. “He was fired, and his reputation was ruined, so he needs to start taking steps to rebuild his life.”

Mr. Riser, who had joined the Dallas police in August 2008, was released after his lawyers requested the hearing to determine whether the case against him should proceed to a grand jury.

During the hearing, a Dallas homicide detective, Esteban Montenegro, said he believed there was enough evidence to support the charges. “I still feel there is enough probable cause there,” he said.

The Dallas police said on Wednesday that investigators had followed the legal process and had presented two probable cause affidavits to a Dallas County district judge for review and that sufficient probable cause had been found.

“The detectives assigned to this investigation are committed to seeing justice being served for the victims and their families, and we fully support their efforts,” the department said in a statement. “This investigation remains open and ongoing.”

When the department announced the charges last month, the police said that the case against Mr. Riser had begun after Ms. Saenz’s body was found in the Trinity River in Dallas on March 10, 2017. She had been shot several times, the police said.

In September 2017, three men — Kevin Kidd, 28; Emmanuel Kilpatrick, 31; and Jermon Simmons, 35 — were arrested and charged with killing Ms. Saenz, the police said.

On Aug. 12, 2019, a prosecutor told the Dallas police that one of the men — who was identified only as a “witness” in court papers — wanted to come forward with information about Mr. Riser’s involvement in Ms. Saenz’s murder, the authorities said.

The witness told the police that he and Mr. Riser had known each other for years and had reconnected in 2013 when Mr. Riser contacted him and asked him if he was “still doing the things they were doing when they were young,” like committing burglaries, according to court documents.

The witness said that Mr. Riser had initially promised to provide him with information about drug houses if the witness and his crew would rob the houses and then keep the drugs and give any stolen money or guns to Mr. Riser, the police said.

The plan, however, never materialized, the witness said, because Mr. Riser then came up with a plan to have Mr. Douglas kidnapped and killed for $3,500, the police said.

Several days later, the witness said, he and an associate stopped and handcuffed Mr. Douglas, put him in a car and drove him to a spot near the Trinity River, the police said. Mr. Douglas was shot and killed, and his body was dumped in the river, the witness told the police.

About two weeks later, Mr. Riser contacted the witness again and told him he would pay him $6,000 to kidnap and kill Ms. Saenz, the police said. Mr. Riser told the witness that she was “an informant,” the police said.

Ms. Saenz was shot and killed, and her body was dumped in the river, the police said. But the witness never collected the $6,000 because he and his associates were arrested in unrelated killings, the police said.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here