Cop killer's motion symptom of larger issues for DA?

February 9, 2012 4:35:33 PM PST
Could a convicted cop killer's road back to death row be stalled as a result of an investigation into the Harris County District Attorney's Office?

The chances are slim that this death row inmate's fate could be significantly changed as a result of the investigation. But the motion itself could be a symptom of a larger problem that may begin to plague the DA's office.

We brought you this story as breaking news Wednesday night on Eyewitness News at 6pm.

This is a bit of a legal Hail Mary, if you will, but it is proof that the DA's troubles are bleeding into courtrooms where prosecutors are now spending time fighting public perception instead of fighting crime -- at least in this one high-profile case.

On Thursday morning, a top assistant of Harris County DA Pat Lykos was in court to tell a judge that death row inmate Carl Buntion doesn't deserve a time out while Texas Rangers and the FBI ask questions about the DA.

Buntion is a convicted cop killer who's getting a new sentencing hearing this month. His lawyers are asking a judge to either stop the case until the Rangers and FBI conclude whatever they are working on or appoint an independent prosecutor.

If it's granted -- which seems unlikely -- it could have huge impacts in a courthouse where Lykos' team handles 100,000 cases a year.

"That's what happens when DA's are investigated for criminal offenses; that's what happens. Everybody's looking at me, 'Why did you file the motion?' Why is she (Lykos) being investigated? There's where the problem is. Let's look back at that," said Buntion's lawyer, Casey Kiernan.

"We're going to cooperate with whatever is being conducted. We're still doing business. We still have criminals to prosecute, victims to serve and justice to be sought out," said Alan Curry, Harris County Assistant District Attorney.

Judge David Mendoza will rule on the motion on Friday. Our legal analyst Joel Androphy doesn't give it much of a chance at success, calling it "ludicrous."

The DA's troubles date back nearly a year ago when 13 Undercover exposed problems with the DWI testing units, or BAT vans. The question then became: what did the DA's office know about those problems and when?

A grand jury charged with answering that question ended their investigation last week without any indictments. And while jurors could find no criminal wrongdoing, they did complain about resistance from the DA's office, namely that agents with the DA's office were investigating individual jurors. It's those claims that now have the interest of the FBI and Texas Rangers.

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