Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Legendary Renews PR Bond Report Pending Since Oct., 2009

County officials have blocked public information requests for a year due to one technicality or another

Court officials have released hundreds of persons charged with crimes ranging the entire gamut of offenses against both property and persons from McLennan County jails without their case ever receiving the attention of a Grand Jury.

County officials have systematically blocked public information requests that were made starting in October 2009 under the Texas Open Records Act. The information is generated through electronic means on a daily basis and furnished to public officials as a matter of routine.

Requests for the information have been held up due to the need for the county's data processing department to customize the records for a range of dates – a task that would require charging $10 per minute to make the alterations, according to Randall Scott Gates, a former narcotics detective and crime scene technician who is no longer employed in law enforcement, but continues to serve as a reserve officer and maintains his peace officer certification. He is a 20-year veteran of police work who has maintained certification by the state.

The Legendary is filing a similar request for the same information today with the custodian of records, Mr. Robert Wasson, director of McLennan County's Data Processing Department.

“What some people call an obsession, I call public safety,” said Mr. Gates when reached for comment. “Most of this stuff happens before the DA even has the case.”

Some high profile cases involving serious alleged felony offenders have surfaced in the past weeks.

They include:

Court officials released accused child rapist Benjamin Alan Morrison, 37, of Bruceville, on his personal recognizance after a February 18 arrest when a Grand Jury had failed to indict him within the prescribed period of 90 days. Court officers arrested Mr. Morrison following an indictment in August of this year when he showed up for a hearing in 19th State District Court. He is charged with 8 counts of aggravated sexual assault of a female child less than 14 years of age and one count of continuing sexual abuse of a child.

Steven Ray Johnson, 41, of Waco, gained his freedom within 4 days of being jailed on a charge of attempted capital murder of a Robinson car dealer on August 2. Mr. Johnson has not been indicted.

It will interesting to find out how many more violent offenders court officials have released following their arrest for heinous crimes over the past 2 years.

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