Tom Coleman photo by David Bowser said, he put Coleman back on the street. Did Stewart actually see the dismissal, Hrin asked? Stewart replied that he did not. Hrin was mystified: Q: I can’t understand this. You give him a leave of absence for a week. A: Yes, sir. Q: Tell him he can’t work until it’s disposed of. A: Yes, sir. Q: He comes back and tells you it’s been dismissed, and you let him go back to work without any verification from Cochran County that it’s been dismissed. A: No, I don’t remember anything past that. Hrin wasn’t sure what to make of Stewart’s laconic answers to the astounding revelation that the only witness in this case had been arrested during the investigation. The man was either very cagey or very stupid. Hrin now asked him if, after discovering the warrant in the first place, he had called the Cochran County sheriff’s office to find out why Coleman had left that department eight months before coming to Tulia. A: No, sir. I don’t think anything ever came about to make me think anything except that he left on his own. That’s what he told me, and there was nono indications otherwise. Q: Well, Sheriff, with all due respect, if you have an individual who is handling hundreds of dollars of task force money A: Uh-huh. Q: to make these drug buys on a weekly basis, and it’s brought to your attention that he’s charged in another jurisdiction with stealing that county’s property A: Yes, sir. Q: that wouldn’t cause you some concern, just a little concern about having access to these funds and accountability and that sort of thing? That just never crossed your mind to worry about that? A: When thisthis came when this warrant come incame in, yes, sir. Very obviously it was a concern. Q: Okay. But not enough so to pick up the phone and call his ex-employer and say, “Is this the only problem with this guy? Is there anything I need to know?” A: I did not do that. Q: Okay. Just didn’t think it was important? A: I don’t know as I would say that I didn’t think it was important. It was not the step that I took. When his bill was completed, Hrin asked that he be allowed to rehearse at least a portion of the questioning in front of the jury. Coleman had given a different account of why he left Cochran County than the one given by his supervisors, Hrin argued, and he ought to be allowed to explore that inconsistency before the jury. He further asked that he be allowed to impeach Coleman with the charge itself. Self asked if Hrin could cite an authority, something in the case law or the rules of evidence that supported his position. Hrin was not prepared to answer; he did not know about the charge, after all, until &at afternoon. In fact, Texas case law holds that specific instances of conduct by a witness can be invoked by an attorney to correct a false impression created by a witness’s previous testimony. This certainly seemed to be such a situation, but Hrin was apparently unaware of that exception to the rules. McEachern cited Rules 608 and 609, regarding incidents of specific conduct by witnesses. Self ruled the entire bill inadmissible. After the trial recessed for the day, Fred Sr., Kent, Patty, Mary, and Freddie gathered in the Brookins’ living room. Freddie’s girlfriend Terry was there as well. Fred Sr. was grim. They had to be prepared for the worst tomorrow, he told them. Inside he was furious. How could Coleman testify against his son, if Stewart had to arrest him during the operation? He was the only witness the state had. Couldn’t the judge see the man was a liar? Couldn’t everyone see that? That night Freddie and Terry lay awake talking in bed. Freddie was impressed that Terry wasn’t crying. Still, he could tell she was scared. “I could still get acquitted,” he told her. “Don’t even say that,” Terry said. “Your dad’s right, we have to be ready for the worse If he did get sentenced to prison, Hrin had told Freddie, they would take him straight from the courtroom to jail. There would be no time to go home and get ready. No time for good-byes. Anything they were going to say to one another, they had to say it now Freddie asked if Terry would wait for him. In anticipation of this night, Terry had been asking around about how much time Freddie would actually have to do if the jury gave him the full twenty years. The consensus seemed to be that Freddie would have to do five at least. Five years. Terry had just been accepted to Wayland Baptist University in Plainview. She would be a twenty-four-year old college graduate by the time Freddie got out. Her daughter Serena would be ten. That was even harder to imagine. Thinking about Serena as a fifth gradercoming home from school with a backpack full of homework, getting her ears pierced, playing softballTerry realized for the first time just how much she had begun to count on Freddie’s presence in not only her life but Serena’s 28 THE TEXAS OBSERVER SEPTEMBER 9, 2005
You May Also Like
The documentary in Falfurrias is sinister and spiritual.