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IN HIS HEART FRED SR. BELIEVED HIS SON WOULD GET A FAIR SHAKE IN TULIA, JUST AS HE FELT TULIA HAD GIVEN HIM A CHANCE TO SUCCEED. acterize any of that as negative or marginal?” Hrin asked. There was a long pause. Two days ago, in this very courtroom, with Self and McEachern looking on, Stewart had admitted that he’d arrested Coleman himself during the investigation, and that the authorities and at least a half dozen creditors were after him in another county. Hrin had no way of knowing that, so he could not appreciate the significance of the carefully parsed answer that Stewart gave. “With what I know right now today, I do not believe it’s negative Stewart said. Hrin had no idea he had come close to uncovering the Cochran County charge. He was still blindly groping for something having to do with Coleman’s time in Fort Stockton. He pressed Stewart on whether he had heard of any incidents involving Coleman in that city. Stewart answered vaguely that he thought he had seen a subpoena for documents having to do with Coleman’s employment there. In fact, Tom Hamilton had subpoenaed the sheriff’s office for a copy of the income withholding order that Carol Barnett filed in Fort Stockton. Stewart told Hrin that he couldn’t remember specifically what type of records the subpoena was after, even though his office had been ordered to turn the information over to the judge just the day before. Hrin was done. Having determined that he knew absolutely nothing about any of the allegations against Coleman, Self invited him to repeat his line of questions in front of the jury. Hrin did not see the point, so he let it go. Later that morning, however, Sergeant Massengill took the stand and testified that something troubling came up subsequent to Coleman’s hiring. Massengill hadn’t been present for Stewart’s response to the same line of questioning, and he was apparently in a more candid mood than the sheriff. McEachern cut him off, and in a bench conference Self ordered Hrin to stop the questioning. Hrin would have to save it for a bill of exceptions later, outside the presence of the jury. After lunch, McEachern called Coleman to the stand. On cross-examination, Hrin asked Coleman why he left his last law enforcement position. Coleman testified, as he had in past trials, that the sheriff of Cochran County had been using his office for personal gain. McEachern objected when Hrin asked Coleman to elaborate, but Self overruled. Coleman had brought it up, after all. “You can go ahead,” Self said. “Like charging stuff to the county that he was using for his personal stuff, and, you know, just things that I shouldn’t have been around,” Coleman explained. “Okay. So you weren’t involved in it, the Sheriff was and made you uncomfortable to work?,” Hrin asked. “Well, I can put it to you this way,” Coleman said. “My whole family is in law enforcement, and I wasn’t about to put a black mark on my career like that, so I left the department.” By four o’clock, the state was done with its case. Hrin was to put on his defense beginning the next morning. In the time left that afternoon, Self allowed Hrin to make his bill of exceptions. He began with Massengill, who quickly admitted that Coleman had been charged with theft during the investigation. Even with Self allowing the witnesses to answer, however, firm information about exactly what transpired was difficult to come by. Was the charge the reason Coleman left Cochran County? It was not, but Massengill couldn’t say what the reason was. Was the charge a misdemeanor or a felony, Hrin asked? Massengill thought it was a misdemeanor, but he wasn’t positive. Massengill testified that the task force sent Coleman back to Sheriff Stewart to “get it cleared ups’ He understood that Coleman was placed on annual leave for a week and that the case was eventually dismissed. Had he ever seen an order of dismissal? He wasn’t sure. Did Coleman make restitution? He couldn’t say. “You were his immediate supervisor?” Hrin asked at one point. Massengill was. He just didn’t know much about it, it seemed. “But the sheriff could have that information?” Hrin asked. “Possibly,” Massengill allowed. “Maybe his memory is better than mine. I am not real sure As it happened, Stewart’s memory was not much better. Called back to the stand by Hrin, he testified that he was reasonably sure the charge against Coleman was a misdemeanor. He did the arrest himself and obtained a personal recognizance bond for him, he said. He never called Cochran County to discuss the charges with anyone. Coleman hired an attorney, and in a week’s time he had a dismissal on the case. Coleman was then given a polygraph by the Amarillo Police Department, which he passed. As soon as the dismissal came in, Stewart SEPTEMBER 9, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 27