DA probe starting to affect trials?

February 9, 2012 3:20:03 AM PST
One day after we broke the news about the FBI and Texas Rangers' inquiry into the Harris County District Attorney's Office, we have learned it could have an impact on the punishment for a man convicted of killing a police officer.

It is hard to imagine how a convicted cop killer could use the DA's troubles to stop his re-sentencing, but Carl Buntion is trying.

Buntion killed Houston Police Office James Irby in 1990 and was sent to death row. Appeals courts, though, ruled his original jury didn't have enough information on Buntion's mental illness and troubled childhood and ordered a re-sentencing. A new jury is almost seated.

But after word leaked that the Texas Rangers and FBI are digging around the DA's office, Buntion's lawyers asked a judge to stop the case.

"We think the trial should stop and be investigated," said Buntion's lawyer, Phillip Scardino.

The FBI and Texas Rangers apparently want to know what District Attorney Pat Lykos and her team did once they found out a grand jury was investigating the DA's office.

Lykos initially denied, but then admitted asking investigators to look into the private lives of grand jurors.

Buntion's team says Lykos herself makes decisions about who they will seek the death penalty against, and if there is even the hint of impropriety surrounding Lykos, this case can't go forward.

"It just smacks of impropriety that something bad is going on in the DA's office. We've asked them to either stop the trial or get someone that's not from the DA's office to come and proceed in this case," Scardino said.

Neither the FBI nor Texas Rangers have said Lykos did anything wrong. The DA had no comment on the motion. The judge will take it up Thursday morning.

KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy says the entire thing "ludicrous." He says if the judge stops this case, he'd have to stop every case in the courthouse complex. He predicts that won't happen.

We've been covering the BAT vans and Harris County DA investigations for sometime. You can check them all out here.