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

May 4th, 2009
DA agrees to new trial in Shipman drug case

by BRAD ROLLINS
Managing Editor

Saying allegations of wrongdoing against a prosecutor and a detective “taint” the conviction, District Attorney Sherri Tibbe today agreed to a new trial for a man who pled guilty in March to drug dealing and possession.

Shawn Shipman, 29, pled guilty March 9 to a third-degree felony charge of engaging in organized criminal activity by possessing with the intent to distribute Nubain, a narcotic pain reliever similar to morphine, and two state jail felonies for steroids-related possession. His attorney moved for a new trial after an assistant district attorney accused Assistant District Attorney Chris Johnson and San Marcos police Det. Laray Taylor of concealing that they were tipped off by a confidential informant who consequently avoided prosecution on another charge.

At the onset of a hearing today, Tibbe told visiting District Judge James F. Clawson Jr. that she would agree to a new trial. She also agreed to defense attorney David Watt’s motion that her office recuse itself from prosecuting Shipman in a new trial.

In an interview after a hearing this morning, Tibbe said she remains convinced that neither the prosecutor nor the officer did anything illegal or improper but that “there was a huge cloud hanging over this defendant’s conviction and we don’t ever want that to happen in Hays County.”

“Our No. 1 goal is to seek justice. …Jurors are the best people to decide the outcome of this case,” she said.

Outside the courtroom, Natalie Shipman of San Antonio said she was heartened her son would receive a new trial. “Hopefully justice will be finally done,” she said.

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29 thoughts on “DA agrees to new trial in Shipman drug case

  1. This was absolutely the correct action to take on the case. We have no idea on guilt or innocence but everyone is entitled to a fair playing ground – good move Ms. Tibbe and thank you.

  2. Now, Ms. DA, when will we have legal action from the Attorney General’s office on the accusations of suborning perjury and attemps within your office to cover it up? Surely, those matters will be dealt with soon, correct?

  3. I totally agree with Duncan that this was the right thing for the District Attorney, Ms. Tibbe, to do; but the question is, Why did it take her over a month and two hearings to come to the realization and the ethical decision that this conviction was tainted by the allegation that the prosecutor in this case had lied to get a conviction? That sounds like a no-brainer. The only answer I’ve been able to come up with – in light of the fact that she basically shut down yesterday’s hearing before any facts could be testified to under oath – is that her office couldn’t withstand the scrutiny of those facts that would become public record. Ya think?

  4. “The only answer I’ve been able to come up with – in light of the fact that she basically shut down yesterday’s hearing before any facts could be testified to under oath – is that her office couldn’t withstand the scrutiny of those facts that would become public record. Ya think?”

    I think those facts will come out starting June 23 in his new trial. And it will be public…and under oath. Anyone that knows the real truth about this case should be feeling real sorry for Mr. Shipman right now. The whole truth is going to be his worst enemy and the thing that puts him in prison for a very long time….all because his attorney has a personal agenda and is blinded by hate.

  5. From the sounds of some of the stories being published, there seems to be some pretty damning evidence, produced under oath, already.

    —SNIP—

    “On October 29 (2007), I was contacted by Detective Lynn Leuders,” Carpenter said in his testimony. “I met with Detective Leuders at the county line at 1327 and IH-35. Detective Leuders informed me that they had a search warrant for a guy and they needed me to affect a traffic stop on him.”

    When questioned by Johnson during the April 2008 hearing, Carpenter testified, “I learned today there was not a search warrant.”

    Asked Robison, “As far as you know, no arrest warrant either?”

    “No arrest or search warrant,” replied Carpenter.

    “Your understanding”, asked Watts, “was there was either a search or arrest warrant prior to you ever taking that position (pursuing Shipman)?

    Replied Carpenter, “Yes, sir”

    “That was your understanding from Lynn Leuders,” asked Watts. “Is that correct?” To which Carpenter again replied in the affirmative, testifying that Leuders was in radio communication with Taylor, who was following Shipman.

    After Carpenter stopped and secured Shipman, Taylor arrived and asked for Shipman’s consent to a vehicle search, which was declined. Taylor proceeded to search the vehicle…”

    —SNIP—

  6. Seen it All..aka Cathy Compton… please…….Your doing a disservice to your office.

  7. Not wanting to get into the fray, but a quick question, why don’t people use their real name when they post? I believe that the reason is that comments like this often let the participants say things they don’t have the courage or convinction to say while using their name. Jim Green, you and I agree on very little, although, we do so respectfully. Jim, I really appreciate you having the decency to post under your name. I think that if people were required to use their name they would be a lot less likely to say some of the inflammatory (often times untrue) things that they say. The justice system has the ability to sort through this with, as one of the previous posters said, testimony under oath. I testified in front of Judge Clawson in one of the tom DeLay hearings and I can tell you one thing, he is a smart, nononsense judge. A lot of attacks have been made on the prosecutors and the defense lawyer, things that most of you wouldn’t say to that person if you had to identify yourself. In my book that is fairly cowardly. I don’t know the prosecutor involved but have to believe that there will be a process to look into the allegations against him. As to Sherri Tibbe, as an employer I would sure hope that if one of my employees had concerns that they would come to me or someone to make those concerns known. Sherri has worked hard to make some changes and with change comes resentment, pain and other types of discomfort for those that have had their way for a long time. It doesn’t take a PhD to see that a lot of this is about helping a candidate who wants to run in the next election have some attack ad material. A prosecutors duty is to see that justice is done, first and foremost, and if an assistant DA thinks that it hasn’t been done, then let your boss know so that it can be straightened out, made right. That didn’t happen here and, in all fairness, one must ask why. The conduct of the police officer ought to be above reproach. There are no shortcuts to justice and a prosecutor needs to be able to rely on the integrity of the police and if it’s not there, been lost over the years or whatever then perhaps it’s time for him or her to look for other work. Everyone’s conduct is this case might be examined eventually but I personally think that the decision to let a jury of Hays County citizens try the case is the right thing to do. If this man was selling drugs in our community, and if legally admissible evidence is presented then it ought to be a community decision on what to do with the case. In closing, I would ask that you consider not attacking either side, David Watts or Sherri Tibbe unless and until you are willing to step up and at a minimum say who you are. Pls notice I have said very little about the officer because I have very strong personal opinions about him and he is definitely not on my christmas card list.

  8. Charles, given the reputation of our local police dept., I think you should cut anonymous commenter’s some slack in this discussion.I am not afraid to use my name but I do so reluctantly because, with some justification, I fear retaliation by the SMPD. While I have never seen an example of the SMPD retaliating against someone as an entire organization and in an organized manor, I have observed a number of instances where individual officers harass citizens of the community. This should not be taken as a blanket indictment of the SMPD. We have many fine officers on the force. We do, like most police departments, have a few bad apples. The San Marcos civil service and union rules make it almost impossible for an officer to be terminated or even disciplined. The Chief does not even have the authority to promote officers. Promotions are based almost entirely to “test results”. If you are an employer or supervise others, how would you like being required to promote only on test results. You would not be able to consider performance, honest, character, work ethic, etc…. This is a no win situation for the citizens of San Marcos and will not get any better until we change the rules.

    I have been a supporter of Sherri Tibbe because she has stopped the practice of our former DA of over charging on almost every crime that was brought in by the police. Our former DA seem to delight in destroying the lives of young people who were charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana. By the time the former DA got through with them, they would most certainly have, at least, never been able to find a job that required any kind of background check. Some of them were actually sent off to prison on what the Hays County Sherriff’s office now considers a “catch and release” offense. That is, the offense is so minor that the offender is given a ticket and told to show up at a later date for a hearing where they will at most receive some probation and community service.

    The one thing that continues to amaze me is that public officials have never grasp that it is not the crime that gets you in trouble, it is the cover up. Despite my respect for Tibbe in other matters, this whole thing looks very bad for her. To suggest that this is only politics is unethical at best. To suggest that this is a disgruntled employee of the former DA, despite the fact that Tibbe hired Peach, is absurd. To construct a scenario where this whole case is a plot by Republicans because Jim Green (a precinct chairman) was in the audience at one hearing suggests that the accuser might need to put his tin foil hat back on. Charles is 100% correct in his statement that the DA should be interested in Justice. The DA’s job is not to convict at all costs but to seek justice for the citizens of Hays County. It sure looks like Tibbe has fallen down on the job with this one. Sherri should have handled these accusations in house and have, at the least, fired those involved and prosecuted the cops involved. This does have the potential to become a political matter if Sherri does not move quickly to clean up her office and the SMPD. This country has become pretty sick of phony baloney prosecutors who have been abusing their office to seek a conviction at any cost. See the story of the Duke lacrosse team and some of the doings of New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. As voters,taxpayers and citizens, we must stop this kind of nonsense. I eagerly and hopefully await Sherri Tibbe standing up and telling us the story if she thinks she is being wrongly accused. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

    I am surprised that there has not been comments regarding SMPD’s Chief Williams who beclowned himself with this statement in the Mercury, 28th April 2009:
    “San Marcos Police Chief Howard E. Williams said all he knew about the accusations were “rumors coming out of the DA’s office.”
    He said, “I haven’t heard any accusations, haven’t heard any evidence. I’m not even exactly sure what they’re talking about. I would think if someone is going to accuse one of my officers of wrongdoing I would hope they would at least have the respect to bring it to me so I could deal with it.”

    Uh Chief, one of your cops has been accused in open court of a felony. Your response is to whine because nobody has “officially” brought you a charge. That tells me that you don’t want to know. I have been to several of your yearly presentation on the state of the SMPD. I always laughed to myself when you or one of your commanders got to the point of talking about complaints about officers. Your presentation has always been along the lines of, we are doing a great job because in the last year we only received 3 complaints about officer misconduct and only one of those was of a nature that required an investigation. All of the complaints were found to be not valid. If you only have 3 complaints a year and not one has any merit, that tells me that your department either makes it almost impossible to complain, intimidates people who try to complain or just throw complaints in the trash. Now is the time to step up and use this to get around the civil service regulations and get rid of some bad apples. Just the story (from your own officer) that you had a 7 man surveillance team in Austin following around a guy who was committing a minor league crime should get your attention. If you didn’t know about this before the court testimony, you should have know. If you don’t come forward with some kind of valid explanation for your departments behavior on this issue, maybe the City Manager and the Council need to look at your whole department. Of course, we both know that probably won’t happen because our City Council members are all afraid of the police unions votes. We can dream though.

  9. Hmmm. I can’t imagine why a story about a large number of officers, plus the assistant DA, involved in warrantless searches and cover-ups would cause *anyone* to want to comment anonymously.

    Our justice system is not perfect and guilty people walk free every day. In the event that the allegations are true, it is entirely reasonable to be concerned about reprisals in a case like this.

    You can call it cowardice. That’s your right. I call it learning my lesson a long time ago.

  10. Soechting, do you really believe this a a conspiracy to smear Sherri for the benefit of some other candidate?

    Isn’t this just as simple as a dirty, overzealous cop (and I know you know that’s true) meets a win-at-all-cost ADA with a hard on for Shipman; plus an ADA with enough ethics to completely ostracize herself yet still make a complaint about illegal and unethical behavior as she was duty bound to do so.

    For the record, I like Sherri and Fred and think they are doing a great job, but they could have done a better job cleaning up someone else’s mess.

  11. I believe that I owe Mr. Socechting an apology for my misuse of the word unethical. That was a poor choice of words on my part. I should have used something along the lines of misunderstood or misinterpret. Words have meanings and implication. We need to endeavor to not be insulting with these comments. The free flow of ideas is very important to San Marcos and I should be ashamed for accusing Charles of being unethical when, having know the man for many years, I have never know him to be or do anything unethical. We may disagree on WHOLE LOT of things but I should not have insulted the man.

    If we all misuse words like I did, we might as well let Charles O’Dell be the only poster.

  12. Politics aside, which of course yellow dogs and the fundamentalist right will not comprehend, when will we get real citizen oversight of our police force? From the moment I became aware of Officer Taylors existence decades ago, his reputation has been tainted. Whether it is pushing the bounds of of what a legal search is by demanding to sniff citizens fingers in public, or creatively using testimoney to cover a slimy net of criminal informants who give “information” in exchange for a pass on their own criminal enterprises, we as a community are the only hope to restore ethics to our officers. Does anyone really believe a politician dependent on the next election is the answer to problems with ethics in any one voting block. Independent oversight of our officers can only be achieved with a non partisan, citizen review board. Maybe our officers would do better protecting and serving with the tools they now have, rather than creatively sending cases up the pipes at the expense of both taxpayer safety and dollars. As someone who spent hours in class with many of these same officers at SWT and listened as they attempted to justify stretching the constitution to fill their toolbelts and forfieture accounts, I know they will not oversee themselves without bias.
    brett stahl

  13. Charles Soechting writes:

    “In closing, I would ask that you consider not attacking either side, David Watts or Sherri Tibbe unless and until you are willing to step up and at a minimum say who you are.”

    Observe how quickly Mr. Sims does a 180 after posting under his real name.

    I don’t believe Soechting is called a bully by others without cause. I suspect Mr. Sims got a call from Soechting, and that Soechting made sufficient threats for Sims to retract his honestly felt post. So much for free speech under your real name.

    Hey Soechting, why don’t you give me a call and get me to change my post about your sorry you know what. I’m in the phone book.

    I believe your behavior is a disgrace to the legal profession, the DPS and to society in general, Mr. Ex-Trooper.

    “People tend to get scared when I’m around.” I believe you are really just a bad mannered wuss who likes to bully others.

    Wasn’t that you and Jim Green sitting and talking in court last year? Now you are trying to post your way out of how close you and Green are, even though you are a big shot Democrat and Green is a Conley/Ramus Republican.

    You have a lot to hide…but I’m looking Soechting…as others are.

    I’ll be watching for your crowd to jump all over my post…but don’t waste your time threatening me. You don’t scare me…you only disgust me.

  14. O’Dell-
    This thread is not about your ongoing psychopathic ramblings and agendas. Move on….

  15. Seen it all now

    Your joking of course.

    Someone who hides behind a presumptuous handle, appoints himself as thread moderator and posts slanderous statements must be joking.

    Remember, if I were to call you a psychopath your reputation would not be harmed because no one knows who you are.

    But when you attack me personally on a public forum and make a slanderous statement…that’s a different matter.

    Not to worry though…Soechting will represent you in court.

    Still, you should consider your position, if not your ethics.

  16. Back to the issues at hand – what is going on in San Marcos!? Party politics; elected officials misbehaving; cops lying; allegations of perjury and cover-up in the DA’s office; strong-armed tactics and intimation by the Sheriff’s Office; the jail failing its state inspection. Are there any good, honest public officials in San Marcos? Any of you elected officials out there remember what the word ‘values’ means? How about civility? Ethics? No?-Okay, then maybe I understand how we got to where we are. Maybe there needs to be closer scrutiny of the candidates next election. I’m a democrat, but I don’t mind jumping party lines if that’s what it takes.

  17. So I hear that a DA gave his notice today because of the lack of ethics in the DAs office as a written. Is Ms. Peach going to be forced out next. What is the County going to try to do to her? Are they going to try to get her to sign a document that says that she wont talk? Is Soechting going to run for DA now after getting Tibbe to back off the very position she took the Friday before the Monday admission that she has a problem office, I mean cave in.? Damm this is a a crazy world. I guess I am going to write in Velte because I still have no clue as to who the Republicans will be running.

  18. For Charles O’Dell, don’t god your breath waiting for a call from me. On a personal level I am convinced that you are nuts. As for Charlie Sims, we are and have been friends who don’t often agree on politics but both steadfasty love our city, county, state and country. Jim green a d I agree on very little but that doesn’t mean that he is a bad person. You on the other opinion are IMHO delusional. What you consider bullying is my refusal to care what you and a couple of wackos say. So far as I can tell you have yet to prevail on a single issue and there is a good reason for that—you are out of touch with reality.

  19. Ps in reviewing the above I noticed that my cell phone autocorrected several words, therefore some words and sentences have typos. I am not at a computer but rather at the coast fishing.

  20. Oh my God Soechting! O’Dell is on to us. How did he know we talked about him today. I don’t think he knows yet that I talked to Jim Green today about him. I do think he knows that we spend most of our waking hours talking about him. He must have figured it out that we, of the Vast Hays County Conspiracy (known to only a select few as the VHCC) have dedicated our lives to making him miserable in his attempt to stop corruption at all levels. Those of us in the VHCC know that the only thing that stands between our total domination of Hays County is Charles O’Dell. If the people ever start to listen to O’Dell and his huge organization, the VHCC will be finished.

    By the way, thanks for threatening to beat me up. That made it possible for me to see the light and I now agree with you on everything you say. I even love trial lawyers. Just please don’t hit me again with the whip.

    Really Mr. O’Dell, go away and leave the rest of us alone. We were trying to have a serious conversation about a very serious issue. You are nuts. I am as guilty as anybody on this deal. Remember the #1 rule on the Internet. Don’t feed the trolls. Every time we respond to O’Dell, it just drives his ego to greater heights because he really thinks he is important.

  21. soechting says to o’dell,

    “For Charles O’Dell, don’t god your breath waiting for a call from me.”

    Well, that might have been your phone making a fool of you or one of the cutest Freudian slips I have ever witnessed.

  22. Djanjo, get an IPhone and join the world of wondering how that that happen? However, maybe the phone’s databanks have synced any reference to o’dell to god.

  23. Being one who has dealt with the Hays County District Attorney’s office I can tell you that some of the things done in the name of justice smell of official oppression. The news articles I have read and some of the information I have learned from other places only affirms my beliefs about the D.A.’s office and their practices. I am amazed that I have not heard anything about this on ANY of the local radio or television news casts. My suspicions are that the D.A. is trying to have this dealt with out of the public eye for fear that if this case is overturned and the allegations are true then “Pandora’s box” will be opened on a multitude of past cases. Given the seriousness of the possible outcomes I am wondering why the state Attorney General or the Justice Department has not weighed in yet. HMMMMMMM?

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