Ft. Bend DA admits mistakes in not indicting suspects

December 7, 2011 4:04:41 PM PST
We first told you last month about a murder suspect released on bond because of a mistake by the Fort Bend County District Attorney's Office. Now we've learned it's happened in another case.

The law allows suspects to post bond if they've been jailed for 90 days without an indictment. That delay has led to another suspect being released.

Fort Bend District Attorney John Healey admits this was another mistake. His office didn't seek an indictment within the statutorily required 90 days and an allegedly violent suspect gets out of jail on bond.

Jaime Arismendez, 48, bonded out of the Ft. Bend Co Jail on Monday after spending 116 days in custody.

"I think it's outrageous; that they had me in jail for something they're not even sure I committed," Arismendez said.

He was arrested August 12, accused of felony aggravated assault, and incarcerated nearly four months without an indictment.

"Indictment means a lot. Why wouldn't you indict me? Do you not have evidence?" Arismendez said.

"We're glad that the judge followed the law and that law is on the books because otherwise they'd just languish in jail forever," said Arismendez's attorney, Mike Elliott.

Last month, Healey admitted another mistake -- similarly failing to indict murder suspect Richard Mendoza, Jr. within 90 days of his arrest. Mendoza is accused in the 2003 murder of one-time friend Christopher Daigle.

A judge saw no alternative but to release Mendoza on bond. Healey said they were waiting for DNA testing before indicting him. This time Healey said prosecutors were waiting for more paperwork to help bolster their case against Arismendez.

"I still believe in this case that similar mistake was made, although with good intentions if you will. A desire to make the indictment stronger," Healey said.

That's two mistakes, Healey admits, in a county where a grand jury returns roughly 2,500 indictments per year. He cautions that a suspect's bonding out of custody is very different than charges being dismissed.

"But eventually the call of justice comes and they have to answer it," said Healey.

Ironically, the grand jury indicted Arismendez the day of his release.


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