Lake Murders: Answer due in suit seeking wrongful death determination

I want you to understand I speak the truth when I say I didn’t kill your kids, anyone. Honestly, I have not killed anyone. I wish you could get the rage from your hearts and you could see the truth and get rid of the hatred.” –  David Wayne Spence’s last words before his execution

Austin – David Wayne Spence died in the execution chamber protesting his innocence in April, 1997 for the July 1982 murder of three teens at Lake Waco. New evidence may give him a chance to speak from the grave.

A first-ever test of new law allowing further appeal of the conviction and death sentence is pending in an Austin Civil District Court alleging the wrongful death of he and his two-co-defendants, Anthony and Gilbert Melendez, both of whom died behind bars after pleading guilty in return for life sentences prosecutors allegedly promised would last no more than 10 years.

The McLennan County Criminal District Attorney’s office is due to answer the lawsuit within days since its filing on April 19. If not, the judge will be obliged to enter a default judgment for the plaintiffs.

The Petition for Declaratory Judgment and Request for Disclosure stems from the Legislature’s 2013 amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure and a change by the Court of Criminal Appeals to an appellate procedural rule governing applications for writs of habeas corpus.

The two are designed to allow post conviction relief for persons convicted before new methods of determining scientific evidence had been discovered. According to two lawyers who deal with these matters for the Tarrant County DA’s office, the changes came during what is known as “the year of the writ apocalypse” – 2013.

Among the chief allegations of complaint of the suit are that “…The State of Texas, by and through its employees, agents, and representatives withheld evidence, destroyed evidence, coerced untruthful confessions, utilized junk science, bribed witnesses, fraudulently concealed the foregoing and knowingly convicted not one, but four individuals (Tony Melendez, Gilbert Melendez, David Spence, and Muneer Deeb)…”

Chief allegations regard new blood spatter evidence, discrepancies and outright impossibilities as to time line and logistic allegations in the prosecution’s case, and the existence of as many as five separate and conflicting confessions taken from a defendant who entered a guilty plea in return for a promise of a diminished life sentence for the capital crime and an early parole date within 10 years. The evidence of that allegation was captured on tape by a concealed recorder in the conference room of the DA’s office.

To prove those and other allegations, the litigants acting on behalf of the estates of the deceased convicts must obtain from the Court, 345th District Judge Jan Soifer, an order that will allow:

“Determination that Plaintiffs were actually innocent;

“Declaration that Plaintiffs are eligible for statutory compensation for his wrongful imprisonment;

“Declaration that Plaintiffs are eligible for Writ of Habeas Corpus relief;

“Compensation for wrongful imprisonment;

“An award of reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees and costs; and

“For such other and further relief, general or special, in law or in equity, to which he may prove himself to be justly entitled.”

A big part of the controversy is related to the Michael Morton law, which allows the prosecution of legal professionals who have withheld exculpatory evidence of those convicted in error. Judge Ken Anderson of Williamson County lost his license to practice law and received a prison sentence for not disclosing evidence he knew of at the time of his prosecution of Morton. That evidence led to the exoneration of Michael Morton for the murder of his wife.

The Dallas law firm of Jay English, representing Jason Spence, David Wayne Spence’s son, filed the suit seeking relief for the estates of the alleged Lake Waco murderers.

Reading its 38 pages is a minor education on the back room maneuvers by former District Attorney Vic Feazell and his staff which led to the execution of David Wayne Spence, the guilty pleas from his two co-defendants, the Melendez brothers, and the eventual acquittal of Mohammed Muneer Deeb following his successful pro se appeal of the death sentence for which he served 10 years on death row awaiting execution.

All of them are long since deceased.


4 thoughts on “Lake Murders: Answer due in suit seeking wrongful death determination”

  1. Something is very fishy here. A coverup on a rush to solve the case. A first of a high media profile murder case where the victims were savagely murdered. Wanting to put the case to rest for the victims family led to a quick murder scheme with unbelievable circumstances surrounding the defendants. Also with the denial of the life insurance policy being submitted to prove the innocence of the defendants, the DNA evidence lost to aid to exonerate them also. Very questionable.

  2. I’ve read the book about this case, once I finished reading it, I started thinking about how I believe David Spence is actually not guilty. In the book, it shows many reasons as to why he wasn’t guilty for the murders. It said that they all stabbed the children and threw the knife in the lake, well problem is, they mentioned every single detail there is to know about a murder case except for one, they never went searching for the knife in the lake, not once in the book does it mention anything about them finding or even looking for the murder weapon. Unless of course I missed that part. But as far as I’m concerned, they never looked for the murder weapon in the lake. Another thing is, when David was about to die, why on earth would he choose “I never killed anyone” as his last words? Of course he said more than that but that’s the basic idea, but of all the things he could’ve said, he decided to say that right before he dies. To me he wanted to make sure that everyone knew he wasn’t the murderer before he lost his chances forever. And about those guys who were ironically fishing the exact same night at the exact same time were there, yet, they never really investigated them much, they dismissed it. In the book they talk about how exactly David and his friends could’ve gotten to the other side of the lake without a boat because if u go by car then u can’t get in because the entrance is guarded. Well there was a fisherman who says that there’s ways to get in by car because he does it all the time, well from what I understand is that David and his friends have never been to the lake before, so if that’s the case, then how could they have possibly of known where exactly those secret entrances are? There’s also a part where investigators say they see teeth marks on the girls body, they said it’s very faint though and so they compared it to Davids teeth and found a match, well the father of his daughter saw the photo, and he said that no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t see the teeth marks anywhere on her body where they pointed out. There’s just too much evidence pointing to David Spence being innocent.

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