Charges dismissed against Whitehouse Police Chief due to false testimony

Published: Jul. 24, 2015 at 4:22 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 24, 2015 at 4:28 PM CDT
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WHITEHOUSE, TX (KLTV) - From the Smith County District Attorney's Office: 

On May 14, 2015, the DA's Office requested Texas Ranger Brent Davis to investigate an alleged assault in Whitehouse involving Whitehouse Police Chief Craig Shelton and Complainant, the wife of a Whitehouse Police Officer. Keven Fite, Chief Investigator with the Smith County District Attorneys Office, was also requested to respond, by District Attorney Matt Bingham.

The case was investigated by Ranger Davis and presented to the DA's Office for presentation to a Grand Jury. The case was presented to a Grand Jury on June 25, 2015 and July 8, 2015. A full presentation was made to the Grand Jury, which resulted in numerous witnesses being called to testify, including Chief Craig Shelton and Complainant. On July 8, 2015, the Grand Jury returned a Class A misdemeanor Indictment for Assault.

During the investigation of the alleged assault, it became clear that there was dissention within the department that had been present prior to May 14th . This dissention seemed to originate from an extramarital affair that had occurred between the complainant and another Whitehouse Police Officer (who was not involved in the May 14th incident), while they were both married. This affair was important and material to the May 14th incident in that it involved directly the Complainant, another Whitehouse Police Officer, Craig Shelton (as the Chief who would be involved in the disciplinary action taken against the Officer involved in the affair), and Shawn Johnson. The Whitehouse Police Officer was ultimately not terminated by Chief Craig

Shelton. As a result, Shawn Johnson and this officer continued to both be employed by the Whitehouse Police Department. This working situation caused elevated tensions within the department.

At the July 8th session of the Grand Jury, the Complainant was called as a witness, sworn in, placed under oath and asked questions about the May 14th incident, along with questions about the alleged affair between her and the other Whitehouse Police Officer. During her Grand Jury testimony, the Complainant repeatedly denied any affair with the Officer, stating that their relationship was only one of "emotional support". This was not only material testimony, but important in understanding the complex dynamics present in the relationships within the Whitehouse Police Department between certain Officers, Shawn Johnson, Craig Shelton, and City Manager Mike Huckabee (due to his input and authority in the ultimate decision as to whether to keep or fire the Whitehouse Police Officer who had the affair with the Complainant). On July 8th , the Grand Jury indicted Chief Craig Shelton for Misdemeanor Assault.

On July 10, 2015, District Attorney Matt Bingham and DA Chief Investigator Keven Fite interviewed the Whitehouse Police Officer about the Complainant and the alleged affair that she had denied in her sworn testimony before the Grand Jury two days earlier. During this interview, the Whitehouse Police Officer confirmed that the affair had in fact occurred.

On July 21, 2015, the complainant was again interviewed by DA Matt Bingham, Chief DA Investigator Keven Fite, and Texas Ranger Brent Davis in an effort to determine the truth as to what had occurred between her and the Whitehouse Police Officer. During this interview, the Complainant initially twice denied that the affair had occurred and maintained that her testimony before the Grand jury was in fact truthful. DA Matt Bingham informed Complainant that he had spoken to the Whitehouse Police Officer, and that if complainant had given untruthful, sworn testimony before a Grand Jury, it would be a very serious situation. Providing false testimony under oath as to material matters is a third degree felony. In an effort to obtain the truth as to what occurred, DA Matt Bingham told Complainant that if she was truthful during this interview as to what occurred between the Whitehouse Police Officer and herself, she would not face any criminal charges for lying to the Grand Jury, if she had in fact lied. She was also informed that if what she told the Grand Jury was in fact true, then that was fine too, but that we now had two individuals telling very different stories, and we needed the truth. Complainant then stated that her testimony before the grand jury regarding the affair was not the truth, and that she had in fact had an affair with the Whitehouse Police Officer prior to the May 14th incident. Complainant stated the reason she lied to the Grand Jury was to protect the Whitehouse Police Officer and his family.

My job as the District Attorney, above all else, is to seek justice in any case I prosecute. In my search for the truth, no matter how complex the facts or intense the media coverage and public opinion, my oath remains to seek a just result. In this case, the Complainant in the May 14 case has now admitted to me that she provided false testimony under oath to the grand jury about an incident that is absolutely and without question material to their inquiry and the resultant indicted case. The false testimony and her not being truthful with me, reflects directly upon her credibility as a witness in the indicted Assault case. Had I not questioned the Complainant directly on July 21 st about her false testimony, and agreed not to prosecute her for a third degree felony, I would be proceeding to trial on this case, and calling as a witness a Complainant that had lied to the Grand Jury. I will not forego prosecuting a Complainant for lying to a grand jury (third degree felony) and then prosecute a defendant for a Class A Misdemeanor indicted by the Grand Jury to which the Complainant lied. Additionally, under my duty to provide to the defense all Brady (exculpatory) evidence, all evidence under Giglio that could be used for impeachment, and evidence under the requirements of the newly-enacted

"Michael Morton Act", this evidence has been provided to the attorney representing Craig Shelton in the criminal matter. The defense had previously provided me with the results of a polygraph examination administered to Craig Shelton by renowned Polygrapher Rick Holden.

Craig Shelton passed the polygraph examination regarding whether force was used by himself at the time of the May 14th incident. His answers were deemed to be truthful by polygrapher Rick Holden. Although polygraph examinations are not admissible into evidence at a trial, they are routinely relied upon by Law Enforcement as an investigative tool in their investigation.

For the reasons stated above, the State has moved the Court to dismiss and the Court has dismissed the above styled and numbered cause.