Judge to Rule Jan 22 on New Trial Motion for John Young
SAN ANGELO, TX — District Judge Brock Jones told attorneys Thursday morning that he will rule on John Young’s Motion for a New Trial and Motion in Arrest of Judgment on January 22, 2018.
Testimony and the presentation of evidence in the hearing concluded with closing statements from both sides.
Defense attorney Frank Sellers told the judge that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is under indictment while he sent Shane Attaway, the Chief Attorney for the Public Integrity Section of the Office of Attorney General, to San Angelo. And, Attaway has admitted that he violated the rules of evidence in this case. Sellers said Attaway showed a pattern of withholding evidence.
In his closing statement, Attaway said after considering the evidence, he withdrew his statement that he violated the rules of evidence.
The morning began with cross examination of Chris Hartman. Young's defense attorney Dan Hurley questioned Hartman about lying to the first grand jury and immunity for testifying in John Young’s trial. Hartman said he does not have immunity from prosecution for forgery, theft and money laundering. He only had immunity from perjury in his grand jury testimony. He said he thought he was telling the truth at the time.
Here are the circumstances of Hartman's fib to the grand jury. Hartman was questioned about paying Ray Zapata. He testified that He wrote a blank check that Zapata picked up from his office. The check was deposited into an account belonging to Dallas attorney Juan Marquez. Evidence in the trial showed Zapata controlled that account and, after the investigation began, he gave the money back to Hartman. Hartman said in his mind Zapata wasn’t paid from the Sullivan estate because the money was returned. “My belief was that Zapata didn’t get the $65,000 at the time.” said Hartman.
Then Hurley questioned Hartman about forging the will. Hurley said no one ever asked him for writing samples to compare his handwriting to the will. “I’d love to” give samples to the State or anyone else. “I wish they had asked me!” Hartman said.
Hurley then asked Hartman about the Halloween photo and the text messages from Katie Hartman. In one text, Hartman wrote he would give her what she wants when his building sells. Hurley asked if Chris Hartman was going to pay Katie Hartman to withdraw her affidavit. “I don’t appreciate this betrayal!” Hartman shouted. “I never offered her money.”
Above: Sweetwater attorney Chris Hartman and his teenaged girlfriend the week he testified in Tom Green County in the John Young trial. (Facebook)
Hurley ended his questioning of Hartman by asking if he could be trusted. Hartman responded, “I don’t follow.” Hurley told Hartman that John Young is in this bind because he trusted you.
Judge Jones released Hartman and he left the courthouse in a hurry.
Then Sellers called Thomas ‘Hal’ Humphreys to the witness stand. Humphreys is a private investigator, hired by Hurley and Sellers, who interviewed jurors after the trial. He also interviewed Katie Hartman. Humphreys testified he was concerned for Katie Hartman’s safety because of what she thought her ex-husband would do to her. He said he interviewed her for an hour and that she really wanted to tell her story to someone. Humphreys said, “She believes she’s telling the truth.”
Both sides rested and the hearing moved into closing arguments.
Frank Sellers told the judge this case is about Brady v. Maryland which is a case about prosecutors withholding evidence. Sellers said all prosecutors had to do was come into court and tell them Katie Hartman had called them. Then he said that Attaway agreed that he had violated the rules of evidence. He said Katie Hartman’s testimony would have changed the defense strategy completely. They would have gone after Chris Hartman.
Sellers said the prosecution team has repeatedly failed to provide evidence, the handwriting on the will is unproven and there is a reasonable probability the outcome of the trial would have been different.
When Shane Attaway began his closing statement he said there was no jury misconduct and that Katie Hartman and Brandon Riser disagree on what was said in their 12 minute phone conversation.
Attaway told the judge that Chris Hartman was involved in the case and they considered him an unindicted co-conspirator. He said that this hearing “still comes down to a woman scorned.” He said the information prosecutors got from Katie Hartman on Nov 1, 2017 was not the information that was in her affidavit. He also said the state denies any Brady evidence violation, there was no credibility to Katie Hartman, and prosecutors have no reason to believe any of this is true.
Attaway said the state requests the motion for a new trial be denied.
Judge Jones told attorneys for both sides he will rule on John Young’s motion for a new trial on January 22. He also granted a motion for Young to receive ‘Diligent Participation Credit,’ and also granted a motion by the defense to allow Young to stay in the Tom Green County Jail instead of being turned back over to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice until the ruling on January 22.