Monthly Archives: October 2015


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On Wednesday, October 28, 2015, the State’s highest court in criminal matters reversed Judge Kelly Case’s 2014 order for DNA testing in the capital murder case of Larry Ray Swearingen. Swearingen was convicted in 2000 of capital murder in the 1998 death of Melissa Trotter, an eighteen year old college student whose body was found in the Sam Houston National Forest more than two weeks after her disappearance. Swearingen previously sought DNA testing in 2004, 2008, and 2009, but then-District Court Judge Fred Edwards denied the motions, each of which was upheld by higher courts. In 2013, Judge Case’s first month on the bench, Swearingen again sought DNA testing. Judge Case granted the request, but the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed Judge Case, again concluding that Swearingen failed to meet the threshold requirements for court-ordered testing established by law. This was his fifth request for DNA testing of evidence in the case and was filed approximately three months after the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the previous ruling.

This time, Judge Case’s ordered DNA testing of scrapings from Trotter’s fingernails, cigarette butts found near her body, Trotter’s clothing, and two separate pieces of pantyhose. One of the pantyhose pieces was wrapped around Trotter’s neck, and the other was found among Swearingen’s belongings at his home. Microscopic analysis confirmed that the pieces were originally part of the same pair.  The Court of Criminal Appeals held today that the case was materially unchanged since the 2010 and 2014 appeals. The Court explained that no additional evidence had been presented since the 2014 appeal, where the Court of Criminal Appeals held Swearingen failed to prove that favorable DNA results would have resulted in a different outcome at trial, in light of the “mountain” of other evidence against him.

“This brings to a close yet another unnecessary step in the path to justice in this case,” District Attorney Brett Ligon said. “Our office recognized the need for closure in this case and offered to arrange for immediate testing of the evidence at the beginning of 2013. It appears Swearingen would rather postpone his execution than seek the truth, because he declined our offer, and Judge Case seems happy to play along.”


Also today, an intermediate court, the Ninth Court of Appeals, reversed Judge Kelly Case, this time for dismissing a yet another online solicitation of a minor case when he lacked the authority to do so.

On May 1, 2015, Judge Case called the case of James Anthony Messina, but the prosecutor handling that case was not in the courtroom. According to the State’s filings, the court staff was personally aware the State was seeking a continuance with the agreement of opposing counsel, and the staff informed the prosecutor that counsel for Messina would need to appear to sign the scheduling order. When counsel for Messina mentioned her agreement for a continuance, Judge Case asked her if that was what she wanted. Another prosecutor in the courtroom offered to contact the absent prosecutor to arrange her appearance, but she was informed it was unnecessary to do so. Minutes later, Judge Case announced he was dismissing the indictment based on the prosecutor’s absence from the courtroom, despite the presence of attorneys for the State who were prepared to handle the matter.

The Ninth Court of Appeals reversed Judge Case’s order. As the Ninth Court of Appeals noted, the Court of Criminal Appeals—the State’s highest criminal court—concluded almost twenty-five years ago that a trial court may not dismiss a case because the prosecutor does not appear.  

This case marks the second of three online solicitation of a minor cases dismissed by Judge Case in the past year. On April 1, 2015, one month to the day before Judge Case dismissed the present case, the Ninth Court of Appeals reversed Case’s October 29, 2014 order dismissing the online solicitation of a minor indictment against Michael Massingill, after concluding that Case improperly dismissed it. In July, Case dismissed an online solicitation of a minor indictment against Daniel Paquette after concluding that the entire statutory provision was unconstitutional. That case is still pending in the court of appeals.

“We waste an inordinate amount of time and money fixing Judge Case’s improper rulings,” stated District Attorney Brett Ligon.  “It’s unfortunate that we continue to have to fight just to get these cases to disposition.  It wastes jail time costs, appointed attorney fees and staff time costs, not to mention the obvious public safety risk these offenders pose.”



Tuad Damonn Washington, 44 years old, of Houston, was sentenced to Life in prison on Monday October 26, 2015, in the 9th District Court, for Aggravated Assault against a Public Servant, from a January 2, 2013 altercation at the Woodland’s Mall where Washington attempted to run over a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Deputy who was trying to detain Washington.  Washington will have to serve at least 30 years of his sentence before he is eligible for parole. 

Washington’s trial started on December 1, 2014, and was convicted by a jury on December 4, 2014.  Assistant District Attorney Andrew James prosecuted the case. 
Shortly after noon on January 2, 2013, Washington left the Woodland’s Mall and began walking to his car in the parking lot.  Mall security followed after Washington and MCSO Deputies headed towards the scene to apprehend Washington for making and attempting to make multiple purchases at various stores using credit cards that Washington had stolen from a woman’s car earlier that day. 

Video evidence introduced during Washington’s trial, showed Washington entering a black Jaguar sedan while MCSO Deputy Doug Houstoun and mall security officer Anthony Bernius attempted to detain Washington.  As Washington reversed from his parking spot, Bernius, pulled up in his security vehicle to block Washington into the parking spot.  Deputy Houstoun parked his patrol vehicle behind Bernius just moments later, approached Washington’s door, and ordered Washington out of the car. 

The now retired Deputy testified at trial that he drew his handgun and gave multiple commands to Washington to get out of the vehicle.  Instead of obeying Deputy Houstoun’s commands, Washington decided to escalate the situation by putting his car into reverse and ramming Bernius’s security vehicle twice to create space to drive away.  Washington then turned the wheel, put his car into drive and proceeded to begin driving towards Deputy Houstoun. 

Deputy Houstoun backpedaled and continued backing away from the approach of Washington’s vehicle as he aimed his gun at Washington and continued shouting commands to Washington to stop.  As Washington continued driving towards Deputy Houstoun, Houstoun feared that Washington was going to go through him in order to escape, so he fired a single round into the windshield of the defendant’s vehicle.  The bullet going passed Washington’s head and into the backseat of his car caused Washington to slam on the brakes and finally stop his car. 

Washington was quickly taken into custody by MCSO personnel. 
Washington’s extensive criminal history includes going to prison on four separate occasions.  His first time in prison was for Aggravated Robbery, then he went back on two different occasions for the crime of Felon in Possession of a Firearm, and his last stint in prison was for Burglary of a Habitation. 

Additionally, Washington was convicted of Possession of a Deadly Weapon in a Penal Institution while he was in prison for the first time.  Washington’s criminal history also includes felony convictions for theft, possession of a controlled substance, and six convictions for credit card abuse.  Washington also has misdemeanor convictions for criminal trespass, theft, twice for public lewdness, and three times for indecent exposure. 


A previously deported undocumented immigrant from Guatemala has entered a plea of guilty to harboring illegal aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Alberto Martinez-Vasquez, 26, was convicted today as he appeared in federal court before U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore.

The case was initiated Sept. 10, 2015, when law enforcement responded to a loud notice complaint at a residence on the 9800 block of Gillman Street in Houston. The location was quickly identified as a stash house. Inside, officers observed 16 undocumented immigrants in their underwear, three of whom were women and one who was a minor.

As the officers arrived on the scene, Martinez-Vasquez attempted to flee, but was soon apprehended. Evidence showed that Martinez-Vasquez harbored the 16 undocumented immigrants at that location and charged a fee of $200 per week. He would collect their clothes upon their arrival and would not return them or permit them to leave until their family members made the required payments.
Martinez-Vasquez will remain in custody pending his sentencing hearing, set for Jan. 25, 2015. At that time, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.

The charges were the result of an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations and the Houston Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Goldman is prosecuting the case.





The Houston Association of Black Journalists and the William A. Lawson Institute for Peace and Prosperity held a joint fundraiser this year to send deserving students to college. The event was held at the Royal Sonesta Saturday night with dozens of people in attendance including FOX 26 Vice President and General Manager Dartagnan Bebel and television actor Anthony Anderson.



Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced the Attorney General’s Child Exploitation Unit (CEU) investigators served an arrest warrant on Henry Francis Bunk III, 44, for online solicitation of a minor. This warrant was served at the Uvalde County Jail where Bunk was already being held for violating his sex offender requirements.

CEU investigators executed a search warrant at Bunk’s residence in Utopia, Texas in reference to online solicitation of a minor. The CEU received this case as a request to assist in the investigation from the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office (UCSO) in which the parents of an 11-year-old girl had reported that Bunk, a registered sex offender, had been communicating with their daughter via an online social networking site.

During the course of an undercover investigation, Bunk initiated communications in a sexually explicit manner with a person he believed to be an 11-year-old child and made arrangements to meet the child for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts. Bunk was arrested by UCSO deputies on a warrant for violating his sex offender registration requirements. CEU investigators conducted an interview with Bunk at the Uvalde County Jail, resulting in Bunk’s confession. Bunk also confessed to chatting in a sexually explicit manner with additional juveniles from two other states via various mobile applications.

“One more dangerous child predator is off the streets and behind bars because of the steadfast work of the law enforcement professionals involved in these investigations,” said Attorney General Paxton. “I am proud of the men and women dedicated to protecting our children and our communities, and my office will continue to seek justice against these offenders who prey on our most vulnerable.”

The Texas Attorney General’s Office works to protect children by taking child predators off the Internet and putting them into jail, proactively seeking out and arresting predators who commit crimes against children using technology and the Internet. The office utilizes the latest technology to track down some of the most profoundly evil predators on the Internet.

Attorney General Paxton urges all parents and teachers to realize the risks our children face online, and take steps to help ensure their children’s safety. For more information on cyber safety, please visit:





The Factor has learned an officer worker at Robert E. Lee High School has been charged with going too far with a student in her school.
The Harris County Sheriff’s office confirms Iris Alfaro is charged with sexual assault of a child between the ages of 14 and 17 years old.
Sources say Alfaro befriended the 16 year old male student at Lee High and performed a sexual act on the child.
HISD removed her from campus earlier this year when the allegations first came to light. Deputy Thomas Gilliland says Alfaro had a no arrest bond
of 3$30,000. She’s due in court next week.



Incident Update
Houston Police Department


DATE: October 23, 2015 7:06:41 AM CDT

UPDATE: Suspects Arrested, Charged in Robbery/Murder Investigations


Charges have been filed against two suspects arrested in three murder/robbery incidents in southwest Houston in October and November 2014.  

The suspects, Eric Foster (b/m, 28) and Sebastian Drayton (b/m, 25), are charged with capital murder in the 208th and 174th State District Courts, respectively.  Photos of both suspects are attached to this news release.  

HPD Homicide Division Sergeants R. Rodriguez, H. Garcia, Officers M. Burrow and W. Gilbert and HPD Robbery Division Sergeant J. Mora and Officer F. Braune reported:  

About 9:15 p.m. on November 11, 2014, two black male suspects attempted to rob Juan Chamorro, 22, and his friend in the parking lot of an apartment complex at 6360 Skyline.  As Chamorro tried to flee, he was shot and killed.  

Through follow-up investigation, the weapon used in the Skyline incident was later linked to the following two robbery/murders:  

9649 South Gessner about 9:30 p.m. on October 31 (victim Daniel Martinez, 34)5900 Rampart about 12:20 a.m. on November 29 (victim Jose Moreira, 32)

All incidents involved at least two black male suspects of similar description who appeared to be targeting Hispanic males in apartment complex parking lots in southwest Houston.  

An investigation linked two robberies on November 28, 2014 at 6005 South Gessner and 8701 Townpark to the murder of Jose Moreira at 5900 Rampart.  Victims in that incident were able to obtain a license plate of the suspects’ vehicle, a gray Dodge Charger.  The vehicle, along with witness statements, identified Sebastian Drayton as a suspect in the three robbery/murders, a double shooting at 6405 West Bellfort on November 9, 2014 in which both victims survived, and eight additional robbery incidents.  Drayton was arrested in December 2014 and found in possession of several stolen articles taken in the armed robberies and the double shooting on West Bellfort.  

Further investigation and evidence from the Skyline murder identified Eric Foster as the second suspect in the murder of Jose Chamorro.  He was arrested on Monday (October 20) by members of the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force.  Foster is believed to be Drayton’s accomplice in most of the other cases, including the murder of Jose Moreira.  

Investigators are asking any additional victims or anyone with additional information in these cases to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600.  



The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) Board of Directors has voted to approve a new two year contract for current METRO President & CEO Tom Lambert.  The new contract would take effect Nov.1, 2015 with an annual salary of $310,000. 

“I think this contract reflects all the hard work and successes of the agency under the leadership of Chief Lambert, including national recognition naming METRO the top agency in America,” said METRO Chairman Gilbert Garcia.

“It’s my judgment with Tom Lambert’s leadership that we’ve seen a total turnaround in METRO’s responsiveness,” said METRO Board member Jim Robinson.

“I want to thank the Board for your confidence, but I also want to  recognize the entire organization because this a team effort, ” said METRO President & CEO Tom Lambert.  “Where you see cultural changes, focus on customers, and highest of standards, that’s not simply one person.  That’s what we do as an organization.”

The contract would include annual reviews of performance conducted by the board and a buyout provision for termination without cause.  If termination without cause occurred within the first year and a half of the contract, the buyout would be the equivalent of one year’s salary.  If the termination without cause occurred within the last six months of the contract, the buyout would be the equivalent of 50 percent of one year’s salary.

The METRO Board will be working to finalize and execute the contract by Nov. 1.



Mathew Knowles, the legendary, GRAMMY® Award-winning record-label executive and executive producer of top-selling female R&B group Destiny’s Child and father of superstar entertainers Beyoncé and Solange Knowles, will share his knowledge of the entertainment business in a day-long, intensive boot camp on Saturday, October 24, 2015 at Zilkah Hall – The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

The boot camp, called The Entertainment Industry: How Do I Get In? offers attendees a fascinating, insider’s view of the entertainment industry from someone who knows it from top to bottom: Knowles has spent more than 20 years in every aspect of the music industry and has a demonstrated and spectacular history of success. The daylong boot camp will allow attendees to tap Knowles’ vast entertainment and music business expertise and leave with real information, contacts and strategies for their own successful entertainment endeavors.