San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

April 28th, 2009
Assistant district attorney says prosecutor, detective lied in steroids case

by BRAD ROLLINS
Managing Editor

A Hays County assistant district attorney testified today that one of her fellow prosecutors and a San Marcos police detective lied about the source of a tip that led to a man’s arrest on drug charges.

Attorneys for Shawn Nathan Shipman, 29, are seeking a new trial on two state jail felony steroid possession charges to which Shipman pled guilty last month on the eve of his jury trial. He has been in the Hays County jail since his arrest in October 2007.

Assistant District Attorney Lynn Peach said in a hearing today that she began to suspect that San Marcos police Det. Laray Taylor, a Hays County Narcotics Taskforce officer, and assistant district attorney Chris Johnson did not disclose in a search warrant affidavit and in testimony that Shipman fell under suspicion as part of a deal struck with a confidential informant. She further alleged that they “artfully crafted” testimony to skirt questions about the source.

“I thought, ‘Holy smokes, he’s lying,'” Peach said of Johnson in response to questions from Shipman’s attorney, David Watts.

After the testimony, 207th state District Judge Jack Robison recused himself, saying, “I’m outta here.”

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27 thoughts on “Assistant district attorney says prosecutor, detective lied in steroids case

  1. Frankly, I am shocked to hear an allegation that Laray Taylor would lie about anything.

  2. obviously someone is lying and I doubt its Ms.Peach why would she throw these allegations out there if something was not wrong……

  3. I am the official court reporter for the 207th Judicial District Court and this news article has misquoted Judge Robison’s statements in court. He at no time said “I’m outta here.”

  4. Mary, I am quite certain he did. When Watts moved to keep “the rule” invoked at the end of the hearing, Robison said he could not act because he had already announced his intention to recuse himself. According to my notes, he said, “I’m outta here.” I have followed up with you via e-mail and removed that quotation from the story until we can resolve whether he said it or not.

  5. How many drug dealers and other criminals are going to get out of jail if these jokers screwed up? If it turns out they did this, will other people they put away have grounds for getting out?

  6. This is just another day at the for the Wenk/Tibbe dynasty. These yahoos will stop at nothing to do gods work. I am amazed that Tibbe was bright enough to hire some one at ethical as Peach.

    On further thought was a bunch of idiots at our DAs office.

  7. Who had the motivation here to lie? Sounds like they are circling the wagons and hanging Ms. Peach out to dry.

  8. This is the same DA that gets paid to teach classes at Texas State during work hours (Tue & Thurs am). Double pay for half the work, not bad if you can get away with it. No wonder the place isn’t well-managed. This is what happens when we elect ethically-challenged politicians. Thanks for standing up for integrity and the little guys, Ms. Peach.

  9. Don’t be confused by smoke and mirrors here. This has nothing to do with Mr. Shipman. Shipman probably does not even know his lawyer filed for a new trial. This is POLITICS pure and simple. Why else would the courtroom be full of media and top ranking local Republican leaders for a simple motion for a new trial? Gotta give’em credit though…well orchestrated show today. Fill courtroom with media, put everyone under “rule” so they can’t talk about case, get only one side of the story out, and then get the Judge to recuse himself. Bravo, bravo! By the time the actual truth comes out, this will be old news and our local media may find a place to run it on page 7. Everyone will remember today’s headlines…and Mr. Watts and crew know this. This is a political circus attacking DA Tibbe by a few defense attorneys who want to run their own candidate against her next year. For those that want the truth, it will come out and you will see that no one lied. You will also see what type of people Mr. Watts and crew really are.

  10. I can only speak to my own motivations. Prosecutorial/police misconduct is a subject in which I have a particular interest and have a body of work to prove it.

    When (Republican) Wenk was in office, I did analysis that tended to show he prosecuted far more per capita than DAs in similiar counties and that he lost a large number of cases. Tibbe cited similar win/loss figures in her advertising and benefited immeasurably by favorable press coverage toward her and unfavorable coverage toward her opponent, Wenk’s chief deputy.

    I just think it’s oversimplifying to chalk this one up to partisan politics. Lynn Peach says on her Facebook profile that she is “way liberal.” Shipman knows about the motion for a new trial — he was sitting right there in the courtroom.

    I did see Jim Green there; I think he’s a GOP precinct chair. If there were others, I didn’t recognize them. I saw one other reporter, my old colleague Anita Miller of SMDR.

    To me, the circus seems to be within the DA’s office. Any way you look at this one, Tibbe is responsible. If prosecutorial misconduct is going unanswered in her office, that is her failure. If she hired a crazy woman who makes outlandish accusations, that is her failure.

  11. Mr. Rollins states that Tibbe is responsible for the failures in her office, regardless of the circumstances. I agree. However, he insinuates that this is a case of either misconduct or “outlandish accusations”.

    Though I hate to make assumptions without all the facts in this case, one fact is clear. Ms. Peach, a fairly new prosecuter in the DA’s office, has no motivation to make accusations that I can see. In fact, the opposite is true. She stands only to alienate an established office of colleagues, including her new “boss”. She stands to have a case, which she assisted in prosecuting, overturned. Her reputation is suspect in the media (see “if she hired a crazy woman…”). I did a little background on Ms. Peach. She worked in Abilene for a number of years. There were no indications as per the paper there that she ever made “outlandish accusations”. She seemed to be an upstanding prosecuter.

    What is her motivation to lie here? Clearly, she would benefit more from supporting the party line, and like Tibbe, insinuating that this is a misunderstanding.

    Sadly, it appears that Tibbe has made up her mind regarding the facts in this case, and Ms. Peach has been made the pariah without any facts to support why she would, at her own peril, report such accusations about her office.

    Until I hear facts supporting why this would occur, it appears reasonable to lean in favor of Ms. Peach and look carefully at the conduct of the Hays county DA’s office.

    I feel for Ms. Peach. Clearly this situation has brought her under unfavorable scrutiny, which seems unwarreted based on Mr. Rollins report above.

  12. Brad Rollins is correct, and Seen It All Now must have some eyesight problems. This is not a Republican inspired investigation into the DA’s legal conduct. This is an investigation that grew from inside the DA’s office, a nest of liberal Democrats. Besides me, I saw only one other GOP official in attendance, and he was there in his professional capacity as an attorney. I was there because legal stuff such as this interests me personally. If there were other Republicans in the audience, I didn’t recognize them.

    We’ll see how this plays out. If DA Tibbe is letting rogue attorneys in her office run roughshod over evidence and lie to make a case, she’s the one who should be “outta there.”

  13. I am sorry but our DA’s Office has changed for the better, and your comment Mr. Green about it being “a nest of liberal Democrats” is childish. Justice as I see it supersedes political parties and I personally know that office is run in the best interest of the people. According to your childish logic a nest of crazy Republicans is what we had before, evident by how Wink would prosecute a dog for pissing in public in hopes that he would make a name for himself and his party. The common folk of Hays County have put the Republican way in our rearview mirrors. You all tried to make your name on the backs of our sons & daughters. I am going to put you and any other Republican official on notice, if you drag lady justice through the dirt by going after the people’s DA(Mrs. Tibbie)we, the people of Hays County will obliterate the Republican Party of Hays County and any agent attempting to once again take our courts hostage. We will be your worst nightmare come November!

  14. “Your Worst Nightmare in November” and “Seen it all now” must work for the DA or benefit from them. Can these persons tolerate a lying DA? Can this person tolerate a lying cop? Why in the name of god’s green earth would a liberal democrat with an adopted African American child who moved here to find peace stir up the pot. Why would she get into the proverbial bed with JIM GREEN? If they can stand lying cops then Mike Wenk may have a job for them.

    Your Lady Liberty seems to have fired the first shot by getting her only opponent ( Paul Velte) arrested on a trumped up charge, then recues herself and let the AG handle the prosecution. Does this have anything to do with this, I doubt it, but give me a break. Tibbes’ ham fisted, transparent ruse in the Velte case is as stupid as the drivel that her defenders are coming up with now. As far as I am concerned, she needs to go, file a removal suit so that the DEMORATIC COMMISIONERS COURT CAN APPOINT AN ETHICAL DA BEFORE A REPULICANS” get one elected.

    This is, in my humble opinion, about the slime that is Laray Taylor, who has been getting by with lies and deceit for years. This is about a misguided ADA (CHRIS JOHNSON) who bought into the Laray Taylor method of handling cases, this is about an ethical ADA (Lynne Peach) who actually read the file and put 2 and 2 together and said not now not in my community. David Watts, he is lucky that she did his job for him because he obviously had not figured out that Taylor had lied. This is about Tibbes and Webber’s lame attempt to cover it. Didn’t Soechting teach these fine young Democrats the lesson that Nixon learned, the cover up is worse that the cure.

  15. Speaking of lies. Wasn’t it former assistant DA David Watts who said he would “never represent a child molester” when he left the DA’s office and went into private practice? I guess money talks right Mr. Watts? There is no bigger liar than a defense attorney, period. They will fabricate ANYTHING to get a dollar, and then justify it saying it was for a “fair trial”.

  16. “feel strongly that the law and the facts show no misconduct in the prosecution of this case.”

    What a crock – It is obvious that Ms Tibbe is not interested in seeing justice served – more focused on protecting her staffers and thus her own image – what a shame – I thought she was different. Oh well time to elect another DA and then repeat until they figure it out that the citizens are tired of such DA misconduct – The cops I expect to lie and cheat but DA’s I had hope for better conduct. By the way – Mr. Wenk was a miserable DA and sucked at his job and apparently Ms. Tibbe is no better – what does that make me?

  17. I do not work in the DA’s office I work as a cashier at Wal-Mart for 35 years now. I was planning on retiring until I had to spend my retirement hiring a lawyer to defend my Grandson who was almost a victim of Mike Wenk. By the grace of God and David my lawyer he was not another notch in Mr. Wenk political belt. I am sorry you feel that way about the DA’s office but we have come a long way and I refuse to look back!

  18. I FEEL THAT THE D.A. OFFICE AND LARAY TAYLOR FINALLY MEET SOMEONE THAT ISNT AFRAID TO SPEAK UP TO THEM!!! THANK YOU MS. PEACH AND MR.WATTS !!! I HOPE THAT SHAWN SHIPMAN WILL FINALLY GET A FAIR TRAIL.I AM ASHAMED OF THE D.A. OFFICE AND THE POLICE DEPT.

  19. I hope that the true issue here doesn’t get lost or covered up in party politics. The real issue isn’t whether someone is a Republican or a Democrat or a Conservative or a Liberal. The real issue here is the fact that a man’s freedom and liberty were almost taken away from him perhaps on ‘artfully crafted’ evidence – Except they didn’t count on the new ADA not being willing to close her eyes to what they were trying to do and keep quiet. The District Attorney’s office should be held to the highest degree of ethical behavior and I’m not sure that some of them have met that standard. The DA said she had “investigated the allegations made by Ms. Peach and FEEL STRONGLY that the law and the facts show no misconduct…” You FEEL STRONGLY? Who cares what you ‘feel.’ Show us some of the results of your ‘investigation.’ Who “investigated the allegations”? What “law” and what “facts” are you talking about that show no misconduct? This is a cover-up statement, pure and simple and we should be insulted that she would think we are too stupid to recognize it. There are so many tragedies here; maybe a man who might have been guilty is probably going to walk away from this crime; a career ADA is probably going to lose her job; the District Attorney’s office has tarnished its reputation, and for what? Ms. Tibbe – the cover-up is always worse than the crime, you should at least be smart enough to know that.

  20. I have finally realized that all the education I received way back when regarding due process, ethical behavior and morality from the prosecutorial side is a load of crap. All the D.A.’s office is concerned with is putting another notch in the belt. The attitude that they stand on the Moral High Ground is as bogus as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. I agree that Mr. Shipman is probably guilty of the charges alleged but that does not give the Police Department nor the D.A.’s office license to disregard the law in order to enforce it.

    For those who disagree with this logic, I’ll be waiting for your call when they come for you with suspect or fraudulent evidence and you are forced to spend your hard earned money, time and energy defending yourself. Remember that they operate on YOUR tax dollar and you get to pay for your own defense.

  21. Is that the same Laray Taylor that used to beat up passed out college students in the 90s and arrest them for resisting?

  22. David Watts represented Timothy Syfers a child molester through and through for the money and only the money, he knew when he took the job the guy was guilty. it was easy money for him.. Don’t get me wrong he did the right thing because the guy is a creep but if he said he would represent a child molester well bingo he just did

  23. GUEST COMMENTARY by MARK D. KIMBALL

    On Aug. 14, Shawn Nathan Shipman entered pleas of guilty to two cases of Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity and one case of Possession with Intent to Deliver a Dangerous Drug, all State Jail Felonies. Mr. Shipman received 498 days confinement in a State Jail Facility as punishment, with credit for time served. The defendant waived appeal, and acknowledged that his convictions (the punishments for which will run concurrently) were not subject to any collateral attack in any court. Quite simply, the matter has been put to rest. This plea ends what has been, in my opinion, a needlessly controversial subject matter of much debate among the citizens of Hays County (and has extended across much of the State of Texas).

    Mr. Shipman’s guilt during this controversy was never in question. The investigation conducted by the Hays County Narcotics Task Force was thorough and professional, and established clear and serious violations of the law. Mr. Shipman had, in fact, already pled guilty before seeking a new trial, and was given the sentence agreed to both then and now.

    The controversy was based in what I believe to be groundless accusations of prosecutorial misconduct against Chris Johnson of the Hays County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, and groundless accusations against Investigator Laray Taylor of the Narcotics Task Force. These accusations arose, initially, from what appears to have been a faulty and incomplete factual and legal analysis by former Assistant District Attorney Lynn Peach.

    I am an attorney with well over 22 years of prosecution experience. I was appointed by the Court to represent the State of Texas. I did not work for Sherri Tibbe, the Criminal District Attorney, and had never met her or any of her staff before accepting the assignment. I had no ties with any Hays County law enforcement agencies, and did not know any of the officers involved. I had complete authority to dispose of the cases before me in any manner I saw fit. During the pendency of the disposition of these cases, no one made any attempt to influence my independent role in this prosecution.

    In my independent professional opinion, there was absolutely no misconduct on the part of either Mr. Johnson or Investigator Taylor, or on the part of any member of their respective organizations. Had I found even the hint of misconduct, I would not have hesitated to dismiss the cases against Mr. Shipman, and to refer the matter to appropriate agencies to further investigate the persons suspected of any misconduct. It is my fervent belief that any defendant is entitled to due process by honest officials before being denied their liberty. Such is the case here. Mr. Shipman was treated more than fairly, with the strictest adherence to professional standards.

    The Court, in ruling on the writ of habeas corpus alleging misconduct, found against Mr. Shipman on all material issues, and denied any relief. Though it had been represented in Court by Chevo Pastrano that the defense would brief salient issues in support of its position, no brief was ever submitted. Further, though it was represented that the denial of the writ would be appealed, no appeal was ever filed. I find such a lack of response on the part of the defense to be quite telling.

    Some have questioned the motivation of Ms. Peach and/or Mr. Pastrano behind the actions they took, but I refuse to speculate on such motivation, and render no opinion here. No matter what motivation – political, personal, legal or otherwise, one may have in the course of representing a client (whether the defendant or the State), such motives neither enhance nor diminish the quality and merit of legal and factual analysis. Simply put, one may do the right thing for the wrong reason, or the wrong thing for the right reason. Hopefully, a lawyer will do the right thing for the right reason. In Mr. Shipman’s case, no matter what the motive, good or bad, things could have gone very badly for the defendant, had he gone to trial. Mr. Shipman was, in fact, facing two to twenty years in the penitentiary on one case, because of his prior criminal record.

    Fortunately, David Watts, Mr. Shipman’s primary counsel, and I were able to resolve these cases amicably and fairly. I deeply appreciate Mr. Watts’s restraint from adding to the “battle of the press”. I hope those who wonder about the silence of the prosecution understand that any member of the prosecution is strictly prohibited from discussing the facts of a case in the press while litigation is pending. Mr. Watts represented his client zealously within the bounds of the law, as is required. He and I may have differing opinions on some of the issues involved in the case. Lawyers often differ and may argue their respective positions vigorously, but such argument need be neither personal nor acrimonious. Fortunately, because cooler heads prevailed, Mr. Shipman did not suffer because of the controversy.

    Ms. Tibbe and her staff have proven to me that they are consummate professionals, motivated only to “do justice”. Ms. Tibbe bent over backward to ensure that Mr. Shipman received every possible benefit of the doubt, by recusing her office from the case. The actions of Investigator Taylor and his team were, likewise, thoroughly professional. I was struck by the depth of the investigation, how every lead was followed, and how every bit of information received was thoroughly corroborated before Mr. Shipman’s arrest.

    Public officials receive varying levels of public scrutiny regarding their conduct, and this is perfectly acceptable. Public officials should be held accountable for every decision made in the public interest.

    An informed citizenry watching over the actions of public servants is essential to the proper administration of criminal justice. Public criticism, however, should be avoided without a thorough knowledge of the facts, as well as the law involved. To attack the credibility and reputation of a public servant without such information, or because of faulty information, is grossly unfair. I encourage the good people of Hays County to go to court – it’s always open to the public – to watch their public officials at work. I am sure all who do so will find the justice system quite different from Hollywood, and will come to appreciate more the hard work and dedication that goes into an often thankless job.

    MARK D KIMBALL is a former Bell County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Shipman after Hay County District Attorney Sherri Tibbe recused her office from the case.

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