Justice: Texas Style

If you turn left past yonder y’all will run into Shiner Texas, population 2000, where folks are neighbours even if they only met once. Shiner is a sleepy town, eighty miles from San Antonio, where big-city crimes like rape and murder are far and few between. People are friendly and havin’ a beer on a Friday night is as wild as it gets, until a 5-year-old girl was sexually molested two weeks ago.

Her attacker was carrying her into a secluded area on her family’s horse ranch, when a witness ran to find her 23-year-old father, who heard her screams and scrambled to find ranch hand, Jesus Mora Flores, age 47, with his pants and underwear down, on top of his daughter. He flung the man off his little girl and began pummeling his head and neck with his fists.

Once his daughter was safe, he frantically dialed 911 telling the operator that he had beaten up a man who was raping his daughter. “Come on! This guy is goin’ die on me…I don’t know what to do”.

Mr. Flores was dead by the time the ambulance arrived at the remote ranch. The little girl was taken to the hospital where forensic evidence confirmed a sexual molestation and witnesses corroborated the father’s story.

The father was not arrested but the death was investigated as a homicide and a grand jury was convened. A grand jury is a group of twelve citizens who are representative of the county population, who determine whether there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. If the jury finds probable cause they hand down a “true bill”. If they do not, they issue “no bill”. Their decisions must be supported by nine of the twelve jurors.

The county district attorney announced today that the grand jury refused to indict the child’s father, who was referred to by neighbours as a “peaceable soul”.

The legal rationale for the grand jury’s decision is sound in law because Texas law permits a person to use deadly force in certain circumstances including if someone commits a sexual assault.

Did Mr. Flores deserve to die? He did not, but his own conduct created a situation where he unintentionally died in circumstances permitted by the law of Texas.

Should the girl’s father have been charged with manslaughter? Perhaps in Canada, but not in the Lone State.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang


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