Near mix-up over arrest warrant might have freed accused rapist
Waco -- A Houston man sat in shock, disbelief etched on his face as an accused sexual predator walked out of the 19th District Court with his attorney.
Had it not been for an alert court officer, they might have walked
away, but the judge, alerted by a prosecutor, sent a bailiff to get
them and they returned immediately.
David L. Theimer, a Fox 4 Sports broadcast engineer from Houston, drove throught the night to be at the arraignment of accused child rapist Benjamin Alan Morrison.
As late as 2 a.m., he had received an e-mail from Mr. Morrison on his cell phone.
It was a chilling message.
It said, "You have no business being involved with any of this."
Mr. Theimer disagrees. He is raising one of Mr. Morrison's daughters.
He's married to his second wife and the child lives in their Houston
"He (Morrison) keeps texting me, saying the only reason I'm involved
is that we have a lawsuit going against him."
It's true. Mr. Theimer and his wife are trying to terminate Mr.
Morrison's parental rights through a suit in a Harris County Family
But Court Coordinator Ellen Watson did not know there was an
outstanding arrest warrant for the accused sexual predator and neither
did Judge Ralph Strother.
"He didn't show up on our list with any warrant," she said.
That's because, as records clerks at the McLennan County Sheriff's
Office have explained, there is no way of entering a code for an
arrest warrant following a Grand Jury indictment for a suspect who has
been released previously.
Only if an accused felon has posted a surety bond and absconds by not
showing up for arraignment for the charges for which the indictment
has been returned are National Crime Information Computer databases
updated to show an outstanding capias warrant addressed to any Peace
A prosecutor sitting in the jury box at the side bar of the Court
spoke up and said, "He was not indicted after 90 days and was released
on a writ due to delay."
The judge nodded and went back to his paperwork.
As soon as defense attorney Darren Obenosky was back in the court, he
answered the Judge's questions. Yes, Mr. Morrison was indicted on 8
counts of aggravated sexual assault of a female child less than 14
years of age, and no, he had not posted a surety bond of $50,000 on
each count for a total of $450,000 bond.
"Is there any reason why he should not be taken into custody?" the
judge asked the attorney.
"No, Your Honor," Mr. Obenosky answered. "He doesn't have any money."
He was not free to leave the room to confer in the corridor, much less
walk away free.
He had been freed on June 1 on a personal recognizance bond on the
single count of continuous sexual abuse of a child, for which he had
promised to have a lien levied against his properties or chattels had
he not appeared for arraignment at today's hearing.
Since no bail bonding agency was responsible for keep track of his
whereabouts, no one knew if he would show up, or not.
But on August 4, the Grand Jury indicted him on the additional 8
counts of sexual assault and re-set his bond as a surety in lieu of
forfeiture of $450,000.
Once returned, Mr. Morrison stood in the well of the court room. He
looked scared and very obsequious as two deputy sheriff's officers
fitted him with wrist shackles attached to a chain around his midriff
and another chain fixed to ankle cuffs.
He kept fidgeting as they adjusted the manacles and chains around his
ample girth - he packs 330 pounds on his 6 foot, 1-inch frame,
according to court documents - until one of the bailiffs, annoyed,
said, "Stop trying to help us."
From that point, Mr. Morrison obeyed, his eyes downcast.
They led him away to the McLennan County Jail for booking. He will be
arraigned there later today by the Jail Magistrate via video
In conversation, Mr. Theimer tells a tale of a family in total
disarray, of an ex-wife who lives in terror for the safety of her
There have been threats over the years, he says.
In fact, Mr. Morrison's daughter, whom he is raising in his Houston
home, had been sent to live with the accused rapist by Child Protective
Services officials while Morrison was attending Texas State Technical
College computer classes and living in campus housing.
"I'll be interested to read the indictments and see if any of the
incidents coincide with any of the times when my daughter was there
with him," he said over breakfast with The Legendary.
As he prepared to go back to Houston, he shared a text message sent
him by Mr. Morrison's first wife, the mother of the little girl he is
accused of raping. She is the half sister of another child she and
Mr. Morrison birthed before their marriage broke up. CPS authorities
chose to place the girl in Mr. Morrison's temporary home at TSTC
during the extended period while the alleged sexual assaults took
It's a poem that ends with the words, "There is life after rape."
She included a booking photo of Mr. Morrison in her text message. Her
comment is, "This is my ex husband. He raped me, and later when he got
custody of my daughter he raped her. This is dedicated to her, and her
fight. We are very proud of you."
Mr. Theimer said Mr. Morrison sent him an iPhone text message alleging
he slandered him in his Facebook postings about the matter.
Asked for his reaction to the near mix-up, of the 19th District
officials not being sure if Mr. Morrison was free to go, or not, Mr.
Theimer said, "It's absolutely shocking that he almost walked out of
here a free man when we had 8 other charges and an arrest warrant on
He left for his weary trip back to Houston, shaking his head in