DA Lykos testifies before grand jury in BAT vans case

January 18, 2012 3:14:33 AM PST
For months, a Harris County Grand Jury has been looking for crimes inside the District Attorney's Office. On Tuesday, that grand jury finally put Pat Lykos, the DA herself, under oath.

We were hoping to talk to the DA, but she stayed out of the public eye. Using a private entrance available only to district attorneys, the publicly elected DA avoided having her picture taken. But she couldn't hide from the questions.

It seems Harris Co. DA Pat Lykos would like nothing better than for us to forget about the investigation into possible criminal activity inside her office.

"Have you done anything wrong?" we asked Lykos back in October when the grand jury started.

"Of course not," she replied at the time.

But since then, we know BAT van technicians, DWI prosecutors and county commissioners have all testified. And we know one of Lykos' supervising prosecutors refused to answer grand jury questions out of concern she would incriminate herself.

"Why did you take the Fifth?" we had asked Asst. District Attorney Rachel Palmer.

"You know that's not an appropriate question," she replied.

All of it cleared the way for the woman at the top, the elected DA, to take her turn in the uncomfortable seat. But last week, after she'd been subpoenaed to testify and was just days away from being put under oath, she told Eyewitness News Reporter Miya Shay, "I don't know what you're talking about."

But she did, and so did we. The grand jury might be secret, but the fact she was called to answer questions in front of grand jurors wasn't to us.

On Tuesday, we were there waiting for the DA to walk in, but she didn't. Instead, she used a back door available only to district attorneys.

"A witness testified, questions were asked, questions were answered," special prosecutor Stephen St. Martin said.

In other words, Lykos talked. She didn't take the Fifth inside, but we don't know exactly what the questions were.

On Tuesday afternoon, she emailed us saying, "The Harris County District Attorney's Office continues to respect the secrecy of the grand jury process."

We don't know exactly what the questions were. We do know there are at least two areas of concern -- whether the DA or her staff sat on the knowledge that BAT van DWI evidence may have been sketchy, and if the office retaliated against the technician who blew the whistle in the case.

The DA's assistants deny both claims. Our numerous requests for comment from the DA herself have gone unanswered.