Today’s Investigative Special Report June 19, 2012 “Dealing With Today’s Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” ‘A Rush To Judgment’

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

In the first Investigative Special Report the topic surrounded the Texas man who beat a Gonzales man to death because he allegedly molested the man’s five-year old daughter. It appeared to this author that there may have been a ‘rush to judgment’ about the father’s rendition of what allegedly took place. I outlined what investigative steps law enforcement should have taken at the time of the reported incident and it appears they were listening.

Today, it appears after further information, witness accounts, physical and biological evidence analyzed, and the medical examination performed on the 5 year old child, the prosecutor who earlier stated there was no need for a grand jury, has changed his mind, and has now convened a grand jury into the incident. The incident has now been ruled a “Homicide.”

So what happened between last week’s law enforcement opinion/decision and this week’s law enforcement opinion/decision simply changes what may appear to have been a ‘rush to judgment’. There have been some recent developments about identifying who all of these
Gonzales County Courthouse, Texas
Gonzales County Courthouse, Texas (Photo credit: TexasTravelGal.com)
individuals are and what information is known about those involved in this matter.

The alleged perpetrator who allegedly molested the five year old child has now been identified as Jesus Mora Flores, 47, of Gonzales, Texas, who now turns out to be not a stranger of the father, but what has been termed “an acquaintance.” Gonzales allegedly came to assist the father to care for some horses at a barn near rural Shiner, Texas, about 130 miles west of Houston, this according to the Los Angeles Times.

The father, who remains unknown to the public, is allegedly a 23 year old man. He allegedly was barbecuing and working on a horse at the time of the incident. Nothing else is known at this time about who this man is. Once the grand jury has reached a decision his name will be released and an investigation by the media will take place.

There were apparently other individuals present at the barn. These individuals have not yet been identified. What information they have about the incident, what they allegedly heard and saw at the time of the incident has not yet been revealed. However, initially according to multiple sources, the individuals who were present during the incident allegedly supported the father’s rendition of the incident. What this means is unknown, but eventually will be disclosed by the prosecutor.

The Lavaca County Sheriff’s Office is in charge of the investigation. The Lavaca County Sheriff Micah Harmon has been identified as the spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office. Which law enforcement investigators who are conducting the investigation is unknown at this time. 
Lavaca County Texas Courthouse
Lavaca County Texas Courthouse (Photo credit: StuSeeger)
 It is not uncommon for the sheriff or a designated spokesman to address the media and public. The name of the investigators will be given to the public once the grand jury has reached a decision.

The Texas Rangers have been assisting in the investigation, but their role is unclear and it is unknown why they have joined the investigation.

The Travis County medical examiner’s office performed the autopsy. Initial results found that Flores had possibly died from ‘blunt force trauma to his head and neck area’.

The Lavaca County Justice of the Peace, Alene Lyons released the information to date to the media and public. Her specific role is unknown at this time, but appears to be answering the media’s request(s) for information.

All of those involved in the investigation are of the opinion that the father should have not been arrested in reference to his actions. This decision will come under major scrutiny if the grand jury comes back with an indictment. It is unknown who made this decision, but in this author’s professional opinion this decision by law enforcement officers was not competent or intelligent.

If the father was taken to the sheriff’s office for interrogation, this would have allowed the investigators to video/digitally record the interrogation. Further, this would have placed the father in an environment where his truthfulness and body language could have been further evaluated. If the grand jury returns with an indictment the interrogation that should have taken place will be an investigative step which may make the decision of the father being found guilty or innocent.

The ‘rush to judgment’ mentality may prove to be a mistake by everyone involved, including the law enforcement authorities, media, and public. There is no doubt that if the allegations are true, then the grand jury must decide if the father had the right to assault the man; if the reaction was to protect his daughter; if the reaction was for revenge; if there were ulterior motives, yet unknown to the investigators, will ultimately be considered by the grand jury.

Texas Ranger Division
Texas Ranger Division (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the meantime the sheriff’s department and Texas Rangers need to be investigating both the father’s and Flores backgrounds to evaluate and understand just who these men are. If Flores has never been involved with pedophilia and his family supports this finding, then this may be problematic for the father.

If the father is known as a hot head, has a past of violence, has alcohol or drug problems, has a criminal history which is concerning, this will be problematic for the father as well.

Those who were present prior to the beating by the father stated they saw Flores carrying the 5-year old away.  If this is all that occurred, the alleged rape could be a version which was created to cover-up what the father ultimately did.

There appears to be many unanswered questions. What appears to have been an open and shut case, just may turn in the other direction and the grand jury may return an indictment. The manner in which this investigation was handled initially demonstrates that law enforcement officers must under any and all circumstances approach a criminal investigation in a neutral and objective matter, allowing the evidence to support any and all alternative hypotheses. It is important that law enforcement officers understand their role is to investigate, not advocate. The role of advocator needs to be a job for social workers.

The outcry for justice is the American way, in response to incidences such as molesting children. If the child’s testimony did not support what the father’s statements were, then there definitely will be problems for the father. It appears that the child had little time to be influenced by the father, as she was taken to a medical facility where she was medically examined. The medical process should have included an interview of the child, and her statements if reliable and credible may assist law enforcement, prosecutor, and eventually the grand jury in making a decision if the father should be charged with a crime.

The ‘rush to judgment’ has been recently seen in the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman incident. These types of incidents are unfortunate, but they do happen. Law enforcement officials need to be responsible and perform the jobs their city, county, state, and federal governments and most importantly the community and public must expect.

Law enforcement officials are trained and educated to approach an allegation in a specific manner. Failure to do so demonstrates the attitude and ideology that as Americans should not tolerate. In this case the incident is sad, no matter what is decided. There will be no winners, especially for all the parties involved.

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 Lawrence W. Daly                                             Follow me on Twitter @lawrencewdaly
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