Central portico of the street entrance to the Old Bailey, City of London, the central criminal court of the United Kingdom.
In a Houston case, “…the handwritten petition stated she was murdered by defendants, resurrected by God at jail where she had been incarcerated for 330 years. It took a time machine and Jesus Christ to get [me] out of jail.”
Six Shooter Junction – Three kids who had been living at the Methodist Home, a very – ah, Christian institution for troubled youths who had been behaving – well, a little off the beam, died horrible deaths by stabbing one hot summer night 35 years ago.
In the resulting furor, no one in any official capacity – and certainly no crime buff – has been able to accept the simplest, most easily proven possibility.
In fact, people in Waco, Texas freak out totally when confronted with any possibility that anything other than what the cop and the DA built cases for – to convict four men with known modus operandi totally unattractive, socially unacceptable, and certainly not in keeping with the rules for the – well, ah – Christian rehabilitation of youthful drug offenders.
It goes against the grain, the litany of a national mantra of confidentiality, decency, and the hopes that good kids won’t wind up in the kind of bad circumstances to which drug use so often leads.
The three teenagers – two of the girls from Waxahachie, one a boy with a drug problem, were last seen alive at a lakeside park where people are known to go to buy and sell dope. Fishermen found their mutilated bodies on the other side of the lake, posed in positions suggesting ritualistic murder most foul.
One of the girls had just come from the Texas Rangers Museum, where she worked as a receptionist and tour guide during her stay at the Methodist Home. She had returned to her home town and was making a visit to see her friends, get and cash her check, and – well, party?
Okay, troubled kids, a sinecure of a job at the show place of the state’s law enforcement community, a building dedicated to the impeccable brand and the exploits of the fabled Texas Rangers?
How would the drug dealing and consuming public likely react to some young folks who looked and could have been easily mistaken for Mod Squad types, working on a dance card to satisfy the man and get rid of some really ugly criminal charges?
Hey, it’s not really that big of a town when you get down to who’s hot and who’s not, who’s holdin’ and who’s foldin’. Out of a population of roughly a hundred thousand?
Want to find out? Really?
Yeah. But is it true, this nightmare of a case that – after 35 years – just doesn’t go away?
After some hard, serious changes, one of the alleged perpetrators was convicted and executed for the capital of one of the kids.
To give you an idea of the type of trauma this individual was capable of inflicting on innocent people, David Wayne Spence insisted – tres macabre – that his son Jason, on whose behalf the lawsuit has been filed, attend his execution by lethal injection.
His son alleges his father was falsely convicted, that he didn’t do the crime. According to his lawyers, neither of two of his associates who allegedly participated in the killings, and likewise a third who offered to pay half of a life insurance settlement for the death of one of the girls mistaken for another girl.
The State of Texas has responded by saying there is no basis in fact for the allegation under a somewhat new rule used in civil cases of its type.
Rule 91a has been used most famously in a case alleging sexual assault by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
His lawyers used a special provision of the rule that provides for a pleading of no basis in fact, in which no reasonable person would believe that such an event as alleged ever took place.
According to an expert, the Honorable Judge Randy Harris, 157th District at Harris County, a former trial attorney at a Houston firm for nearly three decades who taught many young attorneys before he took the bench, “Rule 91a is a useful tool to dismiss the ocasional nut suits that we sometimes encounter. For example, one Harris County judge recently dismissed a case under rule 91a where the handwritten petition stated she was murdered by defendants, resurrected by God at jail where she had been incarcerated for 330 years. “It took a time machine and Jesus Christ to get [me] out of jail.”
The motion has teeth in it, built in by the committee who drafted the proposed court rule for the Texas Supreme Court. Defendants have 45 days to file a motion for dismissal hearing. If the judge finds no basis for the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are required to pay reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees. However, if a judge finds there is reason to believe the allegations of a lawsuit, the defendant must pay the expenses and fees.
The results have so far been mixed, with some holdings favorable to plaintiffs and others – not so much.
In this case, the State of Texas has responded in exactly the same way. According to their motion, which is to argued as to procedure, there is no basis in fact for the allegations in which a reasonable person could place any trust.
But it’s the nature of police work to go after a credible suspect with a known track record and develop a case. That’s how they do it in downtown Cairo, Hong Kong, London, Paris, Rome – and Okeechobee.
In the Lake Murders, one Waco Police Detective gave up on convicting the alleged suspects, with the approval of the Chief of Police.
At that point, Sgt. Truman Simons guaranteed the tough talking new DA Vic Feazell he could have the case solved in a week.
He asked for and got the job of Investigator of Special Crimes. Feazell alleged financed his salary with a $60,000 seizure from a drug dealer, according to his ex-wife Bernadette Feazell.
Like any pragmatic cop, he went to the files, where he found the cases on two sex offenders – David Wayne Spence and Gilbert Melendez. Spence had just drawn a sentence of 90 years for his part in the sexual assault of a queen who took he and Melendez to his apartment for a party.
Spence, who was handy with a knife, told the old boy if he didn’t go down on him, he would cut him; Melendez said if he did, he would kill him with his knife.
A third defendant, Tony Melendez, was under a charge for sexual assault and home invasion of the residence of a Corpus Christi pharmaceutical warehouse operator. As member of the family arrived home from their day, Melendez and two cohorts who lay in wait waylaid them, allegedly raped the teen-aged daughter – in her mother’s bed – and extracted the keys to the warehouse and the burglary alarm codes from the father.
They tied up the mother and baby brother who were last to arrive home so they could watch all this as it happened.
Both of the Melendez brothers chose to cooperate with authorities.
The rest was up to a judge and jury, and it was a wild a wooly operation in which David Wayne Spence and a Jordanian national named Mohammed Muneer Deeb, a young computer repair student with a club foot and a long route to get home, were tried for the murder for hire plot of a girl who was not there, and the resulting slaughter of three other kids who were.
Did I mention that Deeb owned a marginal grocery right next door to the Methodist Home, the place where kids from all over board when their lives slip slightly out of orbit, go somewhat askew?
That’s where the entire town of Jerusalem-on-the-Brazos is sleep walking through the drummer’s jingle, “Punch, brothers, punch with care. Punch in the presence of the pasen-jare,” as Twain once put it so well.
The intended victim was also a former resident of the Methodist Home who had worked for Deeb at his store, a hangout for Spence and others who liked to play coin-operated games.
Deeb had taken out insurance policies on his employees, sureties he described as workman’s compensation, but which investigators identified as life insurance policies. The State alleged Deeb offered Spence half the proceeds if he would kill the girl who had spurned Deeb’s advances. His motive? He need to get married in order to get a Green Card.
Years later, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed and remanded his jury verdict of guilty of capital murder and punishment by execution because the trial judge admitted hearsay testimony of a jailhouse snitch about what David Spence allegedly told him while in jail.
Trouble is, hearsay that includes what someone else said about a defendant is inadmissible. The court ruled the judge erred because the testimony did not directly involve anything Deeb said or did. A Ft. Worth jury later acquitted him. He died of cancer, a free man.
Bernadette Feazell is extremely interested in the case. She has made numerous serious accusations public about what she believes her ex-husband the DA and the investigator Truman Simons allegedly did to bring about the false convictions, including murder of contrary witnesses.
In a public appeal on Facebook, she asked anyone who is going to the hearing for a ride to Austin, but turned down a ride with The Legendary Jim Parks for these reasons:
“…Here’s the deal. I want to go but I don’t want to go. I want to go BUT I kind of don’t want to so that those fucking attorneys for young Spence will find themselves having to answer questions that they cannot answer. I want them to need me so I can make the motherfuckers PAY ME. Capisce?…”
One can only agree. It’s understood.
Tu salud, signora!
So mote it be.
Bernadette Feazell gave this interview to the “Huffington Post” –