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DA Watch: Tarrant County DA Tosses Hot Potato to Texas AG in Toney Case

Well, well, well. Seems the District Attorney’s Office over in Fort Worth isn’t going to make the call in the Michael Toney case. They’ve just recused themselves, and now the decision about what to do with Michael Toney is on the Attorney General’s desk.

Who’s Michael Toney? Why is this case a hot potato?

Back in October 2008, we had a lengthy post here (link below) about Michael Toney with all the backstory details. Suffice to say, it was his case where the Tarrant County DA held back important evidence — evidence that could have saved Mr. Toney from a murder conviction and Death Row.

Yep. Michael Toney has been setting on Death Row since 1999, while dust gathered on key evidence over there in the Tarrant County DA’s offices.

What was held back?

Fourteen (14) separate documents that threw mud all over the evidence provided at trial against Toney by his ex-wife and his ex-best-friend — and theirs was the only witness evidence against him.

What does this mean?

By recusing itself, Tarrant County is transfering prosecution of this matter to the Attorney General for the State of Texas. It’s now the AG’s office that will have to decide whether or not to spend taxpayer money on a new trial for Michael Toney.

Right now, it’s unclear whether or not they’ve got enough evidence to pursue a case against him. (There was no physical evidence, and it’s not disputed that Toney had absolutely no connection with the three victims of the 1985 Thanksgiving Day bomb.)

When will the trial decision be made?

There’s no deadline – but Toney’s attorneys could move the court to set one.

What’s being said?

According to the Star-Telegram, Tarrant County says this was the “appropriate thing to do,” and the AG didn’t say anything (telling the media they didn’t have enough info yet).

Toney’s got some really big guns fighting for him: over in San Francisco, Colleen Kennedy of O’Melvany & Myers spoke on Toney’s behalf and agreed that the recusal was “appropriate.”

The victim’s family has been quoted as believing Toney is guilty, but wanting to make sure he gets a fair trial.

What’s the kicker?

It may just be the appropriate thing to do for Tarrant County to get this case out of its offices after it’s uncontested that this important evidence sat there — stuff that could have freed a man from Death Row.

However, it’s curious, too.

If there’s not enough evidence – once it’s all spread out on the table – for there to be a retrial of Michael Toney, then that’s gonna be decided and announced from the AG’s Office, not Tarrant County. And from the press reports, you gotta wonder what’s left on the State’s side to demonstrate guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at this juncture.

So, if the decision is made not to re-try Toney, then what’s up his fancy California law firm’s sleeve? Does anyone wonder about the civil lawsuit that might be waiting in the wings?

That’s possibly a big case: after all, he’s been setting on Death Row for all this time, stalwarting claiming that he is innocent of that bombing.

Is this is a case that the AG’s getting ready for? Just something to ponder. Cha-ching.


Fort Worth Star Telegram

Dallas Criminal Lawyer Blog

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