Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Local News

December 10, 2013

Obstacles removed, DA approves

McKee in favor of law designed to prevent abuses in system

Athens — Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee believes a new law designed to remove obstacles to accessing evidence can help prevent abuses such as the ones that sent Michael Morton to prison for 25 years for a crime he didn’t commit.

Governor Rick Perry signed Texas Senate Bill 1611 into law in May. The legislation, also referred to as the Michael Morton Act takes effect Jan. 1.

McKee said his office has long had an open file policy as a voluntary supplement to statutory discovery requirements.

“We show them our cards and we’ve always done that,” McKee said.

McKee said often the policy works in the favor of his prosecution efforts.

“Really, what it does for a defense attorney is gives them ammunition to talk to their clients and say ‘Look, they’ve got you dead to rights,’’’ McKee said. “It certainly hasn’t affected our conviction rate. Our conviction rate is outstanding.”

McKee said he taught a three-hour case study on the Michael Morton case and what can go wrong when exculpatory evidence is not turned over to the defense to a group of new detectives at the police academy in Kilgore last month. 

McKee said his stance has not been popular with some of his colleagues from other counties.

“I have been on my soap box about Michael Morton and the unfair treatment he received at the hands of former Williamson County DA and Judge Ken Anderson and Anderson’s successor to the DA’s office, John Bradley,” McKee said. “These two gentleman did more to undermine the credibility of the justice system in Texas than anyone ever.  In short, a totally innocent man went to prison for 25 years for the murder of his wife that he did not commit. It is a tragic story of a prosecutor who wanted to win at all costs.”

Anderson was ultimately convicted for his conduct and resigned as a judge.

Bradley was voted out of office.

 McKee said the new DA of Williamson County is reviewing all of their prior cases to see if she finds any other instances of prosecutor misconduct.

“I hope she prosecutes them to the full extent of the law if she finds any others,” McKee said.

Records made available though McKee’s policy include items like offense reports, in-car video, lab reports, written witness statements and transcripts of witness statements.

In addition, the defense may inspect all items seized, collected, or expected to be offered into evidence that are in the possession of the State or one of its law enforcement agencies.

All promises of benefit or leniency given to any prospective witness in exchange for their testimony are also provided under policy.

Text Only
Local News
  • 4-16 beauty.jpeg Bursting with beauty

    A shining star already in her parents eyes,  Geraldine Nieto displayed her ray of beauty Sunday in Tyler to claim top status in the Sunburst Talent/Beauty Contest.
    The 5-year-old Athens resident is the daughter of Jaime and Karla Nieto.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dozens attend council meeting for recovery, transfer station

    Nathan Bullard, owner of Yellow Box Environmental LLC,  was at Gun Barrel City Hall to explain future development plans for property located at 546 Gun Barrel Lane.
    Bullard said he wanted to introduce himself and his company to the neighbors who own property close to his project.  
    Bullard was on hand to inform the public and address any concerns about the company’s plan to build a recovery and transfer station.

    April 16, 2014

  • Commissioners sign proclamation for San Jacinto Day

    The battle of the Alamo may be the best remembered conflict in Texas’ fight for independence, but the battle at San Jacinto closed the deal.
    Representatives of the Sons of the Republic of Texas were on hand at the Henderson County Commissioners Court meeting Tuesday in observance of a proclamation, declaring April 21, San Jacinto Day.

    April 16, 2014

  • Ram to donate $20 per test drive to FFA Organization

    On April 26 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. the Ram Truck brand and Elder Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram will host The Next Crop Project fundraising event at the dealership to benefit the National FFA Organization and local FFA chapter leadership programs in Henderson County.

    April 16, 2014

  • Athens tables large purchase

    The Athens City Council  Monday tabled awarding a bid for a large piece of equipment that removes asphalt from the surface of paved roads to make way for repairs.
    City Director of Utilities Glen Herriage recommended that the council award the bid to RDO Equipment Co. of Irving for a Road Hog cold planer. The RDO bid was for $123,267.06, which is below the budgeted amount of $134,000.

    April 15, 2014

  • 4-15 Joe Curl photo.jpg Former TVCC basketball coach Joe Curl passes

    Joe Curl, the former head coach of the Lady Cardinal basketball program, passed away at the age of 59 on Monday.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Review earns six awards

    The Athens Daily Review was honored with six awards for journalism excellence during the North and East Texas Press Association yearly convention held Thursday-Saturday in Tyler.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mrs. Gibbs obit photo.jpg Mabank civic leader Alene Gibbs, 94, died Friday

    Long time Mabank civic leader Alene Gibbs passed away on Friday, April 11. She was born in Van Zandt County on Jan. 18, 1920. She was 94-years-old.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-14 Steer at auction 3.jpg Here comes the champs!

    Friday was a big night for the Eustace FFA at the Henderson County Livestock Show and for Jordyn Costlow, who presented the Grand Champion.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Saturday was payday at HCLS

    Payday came Saturday for  the youth who placed in the 54th annual Henderson County Livestock Show.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Twitter Updates