Sheriff Tucker seeks to suppress possibly incriminating statements
By Judith Pannebaker
Motions continue to be filed in the ongoing criminal case of Bandera County Sheriff Weldon Tucker. The State of Texas has charged him with felony “abuse of official capacity,” specifically, intentionally and knowingly misusing a county boat. In June, a Bandera County Grand Jury indicted the county’s top cop on the felony charge.
On Monday, Sept. 27, prior to Tucker’s Sept. 30 pretrial hearing, his attorney Charles O. Grigson of Austin asked the court to suppress oral statements made previously by his client regarding personal use of the Bandera County Rescue Boat. If granted, statements made to personnel with the attorney general’s office would be declared inadmissible at trial.
According to the motion, for almost a year, rumors swirled that Tucker was the target of an ongoing investigation conducted by the office of the Texas Attorney General. During that time, Tucker apparently trekked to Austin “to try to determine exactly what about him or his office the Attorney General was investigating.”
According to the motion to suppress, investigators and attorneys with the AG’s office “ushered him into an interrogation room where he was interrogated for over an hour” - without reading Tucker his Miranda Rights.
He was not informed that he was the target of an investigation, told the interview was being recorded or that his statements could be used against him. Grigson added that Tucker was not offered an opportunity to consult with his attorney before answering questions.
However, the motion does not include the date when Tucker traveled to Austin to speak with personnel at the AG’s office. Additionally, the motion includes no case law to back up the defense’s contention.
Interestingly, Grigson admitted that “some of Sheriff Tucker’s statements arguaby may be inculpatory.” However, Grigson continued, “The statements were made without the benefit of being properly warned of his rights … and without the benefit or presence of an attorney.”
Therefore, he argued, to allow the potentially incriminating statements into court would violate Tucker’s rights under the United States Constitution and under the Constitution of the State of Texas.
Grigson asked that a hearing be scheduled to determine whether any statements made by Tucker were made with proper warnings, and offered knowingly and voluntarily and whether the circumstances under which the statements were made constituted custodial investigation.
According to www.wiki.answers.com, a “custodial investigation” is one is which a person is investigated - usually by law enforcement authorities - as a suspect in a crime, after being arrested or detained by the authorities, regarding the facts and circumstances of the commission of the crime, for purposes of prosecution.
In another motion, filed the same day, Grigson sought to have the indictment, in which Tucker is charged with abusing his office, quashed.
The attorney said the indictment failed to state the specific benefits Tucker obtained “by his use of the county boat.” Grigson said Tucker is entitled to know what economic gain or advantage he allegedly obtained by use of the boat. He postulated that without a more specific allegation, Tucker would find it impossible to prepare an adequate defense to the charge.
However, assuming the indictment fails to give adequate notice as indicated, Assistant Attorney General David Glickler of the Criminal Prosecutions Division White Collar Crime & Public Integrity Section, who will prosecute Tucker, would simply amend the indictment to give the requested notice.
For his part, Glickler has purportedly asked 216th District Judge Keith Williams to recuse himself from presiding over Tucker’s trial. According to a source speaking on the condition of anonymity, Williams said he would take the matter under advisement when he received the request in writing.
In an unrelated matter, no action was taken after a protracted executive session occurred during a Bandera County Commissioners Court meeting on Thursday, Sept. 23. At that time, Tucker, commissioners, County Judge Richard Evans and attorneys representing the county in a civil lawsuit filed by former BCSO Deputy Scott Sharp entered the closed session apparently to wrangle about the terms of a financial settlement. Sharp’s trial is purportedly on the docket for the United States District Court Western District of Texas in December.