Why is the DA so secretive?

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The murder of Caitlyn Reed has DA’s staff denying public information

Waco – The final moments of Caitlyn Reed’s life must have been filled with terror. Her alleged attacker had beaten her with a cane, threatened to rape and beat her again in a telephone message, and even attacked the ambulance in which she was transported to get medical attention.

She went to her father’s house and “borrowed” a Springfield XD .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol to defend herself. Her attacker came to her home, took it away from her, and gave it back to her father, the owner of the weapon.

Ms. Reed made a second trip to her father’s house to get the pistol. She had it when on April 5, he returned to her home on Tokio Loop Road near West.

Following whatever happened next, he phoned McLennan County Sheriff’s officers and said he had found her dead, an apparent victim of suicide.

They didn’t buy his story. They accused him of taking the firearm away from her, and shooting her with it. They arrested him for murder because the physical scene, the location of the gun, her body at repose in death, did not match what he told them.

It’s hardly an isolated incident, when it comes to official offense reports authored by investigators looking into the couple’s rocky relationship.

The record contains numerous references to earlier violent confrontations, terrifying rides through the country with an enraged lover threatening to harm her in violent ways. There is a reference in one report to the time she tried to throw the keys to his vehicle out the door so she could lock it when he went outside to retrieve them.

David Wayne Zahirniak has a conviction record for violent acts that dates back to a mysterious case of the assault of a juvenile corrections officer. That offense was later prosecuted as “official oppression.”

Law men and prosecutors have retreated behind a line of tight-lipped resistance when it comes to obtaining information about his past. For instance, in what capacity did he serve as a public servant at the time of his arrest for the assault case so categorized as official oppression?

According to the penal code, one must hold some such employment in order to be convicted of the offense.

No one seems to know.

The records are simply unavailable because the murder of Caitlyn Reed – a young mother of two small children – is under investigation.

He drew a sentence of a year in County Jail and a $4,000 fine; the sentence was suspended, and he was placed on probation. In the following year, prosecutors moved to revoke his probation, recommended 270 days in jail, suspension of a six-month pans of the sentence, and that he be released to allow credit for 90 days time served.

All this seems to be typical of his checkered past as a criminal defendant in the District Courts of McLennan County. It appears that on a cloudy day, David Zahirniak walks between the raindrops.

In April, 2008, when charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault, Zahirniak remained in jail for more than 90 days without prosecution. He gained his release on a writ of habeas corpus when his attorney applied under the delay in prosecution provision of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, the provision which guarantees a speedy trial.

A June, 2009, conviction for less than a gram of methamphetamine netted Zahirniak a sentence for a State Jail Felony.

In April of 2014, after he assaulted Caitllyn Reed with the cane, law men charged him with aggravated assault, and he bonded out. Only days later, he went back to her house, where he is alleged to have murdered her with the gun belonging to her father.

In the end, the State of Texas expected her to defend herself with a borrowed pistol.

The firearms law men wear on their hips are for their personal protection. They have no legal obligation to protect the citizens they serve. Look it up. The case law books are filled with numerous examples of holdings of many Courts in many states after women who repeatedly begged for their lives met a violent death at the hands of a paramour.

Men of the law are much, much more protective of the official record, though those records technically belong to we the people, according to the Texas Open Records Act.

Since the first week of this month, the staff of the Criminal District Attorney of McLennan County has defied a ruling by the Open Records Division of the Attorney General’s Office that holds they must turn over all materials requested by former police officer R.S. Gates.

The conflict started when in May, Gates requested Assistant District Attorney Mark Parker, Chief of Intake and Grand Jury, to grant access to information about the murder case, and also access to information about previous criminal litigation against Zahirniak.

He declined, saying, “All such material was gathered by law enforcement and came into this office’s possession for consideration of criminal prosecution. As such it is information held by this office that deals with the detection, investigation, and prosecution of crime. This information is excepted from the disclosure requirement …”

He added, “Because these (previous) cases, if any, necessarily involve pending or reasonably anticipated litigation and our prosecution files are also our work product, which is protected under the Open Records Act, I must claim these statutory exemptions and cannot honor your request for production or inspection of our prosecution file.”

In the opinion of the Assistant Attorney General, his conduct in fielding the request nullifies all that. In the first round of the conflict, Parker denied that any of the records in question are subject to disclosure under the Open Records Act. Not true, according to the AG.

The act of requesting information requires a governmental agency to seek the opinion of the AG’s office within 10 days. Once a requestor files a written complaint with the AG, that “triggers” certain deadlines, none of which the DA’s office has met.

Said Gates, “Government officials make it a shell game. If you ask for a pencil, they come back and say can’t have a pen. They came back with a list of excepted information you didn’t even ask for.”

According to Rahat Huq, the Assistant AG who wrote the opinion, the DA’s office must withold information regarding the names of the children whom Zahirniak assaulted, information regarding the motor vehicle numbers involved, criminal history details that are excepted under the various provisions of the act, and e-mail addresses attached to various correspondence relating to the case.

The remaining information must be released.”

So far, no such information has been released. In a follow-up call to Mr. Reyna made today, The Legendary requested only the information as to which government agency employed Zahirniak at the time of the 2007 assault for which he was sentenced to official oppression.

His assistant took a message. We received no reply.

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