DA Pat Lykos dodges ABC13's questions about investigation into her office

January 25, 2012 4:49:37 PM PST
The only response Eyewitness News reporter Ted Oberg could get on Wednesday from Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos about her recent grand jury testimony?

"Oh, there ya go again, Ted," Lykos said.

For months, a grand jury has been investigating possible criminal wrongdoing within the DA's Office connected to problems with the DWI testing vans. And on Wednesday, Lykos brushed off that investigation as she announced the DA's Office will spend half a million dollars to buy new DWI testing equipment.

The DA is spending big money to make officers' jobs easier and the roads safer, but it also minimizes a headache for her prosecutors.

It's likely bad news for drunk drivers, but bad news for the BAT vans, too.

"We won't have to rely on the BAT vans as we have in the past," said Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland.

Lykos is taking $475,000 from convicted criminals to buy intoxilyzers for four HPD substations. It means alleged drunk drivers will get a more accurate test, district attorneys will get better evidence and officers will get back on the streets quicker.

"What we're saying is don't drive drunk. No more victims," Lykos said.

Got it. But what the announcement says without saying it out loud is that those pricey but controversial BAT vans have become enough of a PR headache to park them more often.

"We have determined on a day-to-day basis that people don't take care of them like they should and it's what caused all these problems; even though it may not cause the ultimate test results to be incorrect, it obviously causes problems," said First Assistant DA Jim Leitner.

Lykos' announcement and half-million dollar grant comes just days before a grand jury wraps up its investigation of possible criminal activity inside her office regarding the BAT vans. Lykos testified to that grand jury last week -- she didn't talk about it then, and wouldn't again on Wednesday.

Lykos: Oh, there you go again, Ted.
Ted Oberg: It was a question.
Lykos: And I gave you an answer.

We asked again one more time and for the first time, the DA fired back at her BAT van critics.

"I will certainly acknowledge there are special interests who have demagogued this issue, who have smeared the Houston Police Department and our office -- and that these have been unfair attacks," Lykos said.

But as to the allegations before the grand jury?

"I am not making any comments about the grand jury," Lykos said.

And then she said to Ted Oberg, "It's good to see you. How was the weather in New Hampshire?"

It was a little chilly -- the weather in New Hampshire, that is.

The DA did offer to meet with us to go over documents and we look forward to that.

As for the new intoxilyzers, they're bought with money that criminals have already forfeited to the DA's Office and they'll be in those substations this summer.

Our 13 Undercover reports first exposed potential problems with the DWI testing BAT vans last March. You can read about the history of the investigation and the grand jury probe into the District Attorney's Office by clicking here.