Accused Cattle Rustler's Attorney Denounces the Free Press
SAN ANGELO, TX — In the opening day of accused cattle rustler Dusty Thompson’s trial, his attorney took swipes at the news media during jury selection. Thompson, whose trial is over the charge of his stealing three of his neighbor’s “yummy” cows, has had his trial date pending since his arrest in 2016, as the courts endured three long years of pretrial maneuvering by the defense.
According to the arrest affidavit, a Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association agent was given information by a confidential informant that Thompson had moved three cows marked with someone else’s brand to Thompson’s adjacent property. The cows were also identified with ear tags. Three days later, Thompson again moved the cows to his other place on U.S. 277 south. The TSCRA agents determined the cows belonged to Cody Strain whose pasture is north of Thompson’s machine shop, right across FM 584.
On one day, an acquaintance of Thompson’s saw the cows on Thompson’s property and he said he and Thompson had a conversation about Thompson reporting the cows to the sheriff and getting the livestock back to their rightful owner. Later that day, however, the acquaintance told investigators that Thompson sent him a text requesting nothing more be said about the three black cows “because they look yummy.”
During jury selection today, defense attorney Rios was beside himself because San Angelo LIVE! reported what the arrest affidavit stated. Monday afternoon in Judge Carmen Dusek’s courtroom, 91 potential jurors faced an inquisition about their consumption of the free press by Rios.
“Have any of you heard about this case before reporting to jury duty?” Rios asked.
Only 13 raised their hands.
“You can’t tell what is accurate in the news these days, can you” Rios prodded. He then went to each of the 13 and asked what the extent of their knowledge of the case was, and how each citizen heard about his client’s trial.
One potential juror said he had read about four articles on the case. “But I haven’t formed an opinion yet,” he said of Thompson’s guilt or innocence.
“You know those headlines are written to sell papers or get readership,” Rios instructed the potential jurors.
“I heard about this case [in the news] that it always gets rescheduled,” another potential juror admitted. One more potential juror said she had read about the case many times. She didn’t say where she read it, but it must have been on San Angelo LIVE! since we are the only news source extensively reporting on the accused cattle rustler’s trial.
As Rios reached the other side of the courtroom, some potential jurors admitted they had read about the case “on social media.” One of those social media consumers said he worked for the San Angelo Standard-Times for about 10 years up and until 2009 or so.
“Of course today, we don’t have just the Standard-Times, do we?” Rios seemed to lament. “We have competitors and they have to compete for our attention.”
The former Standard-Times employee and Rios bonded on that, it seemed. The personal disdain each held for the attention-getting competitors of corporate media seemed to mesh.
Despite the impact of “social media” headlines about the accused cattle rustler, none of the potential jurors who admitted seeing news coverage about the case said it would impact their decision on Thompson’s guilt or innocence.
Rios wasn’t done, however. Foreshadowing the trial’s outcome, perhaps, he sighed. “Just the accusation alone is hard to overcome,” he said.
The trial of the accused cattle rustler continues Tuesday at 9 a.m.
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