Attorneys for a defendant charged in a reported double homicide near Commerce more than three years ago are seeking to have the pending capital murder indictment dismissed.
The West Texas Regional Public Defender for Capital Cases program is representing Tyrone Jamaal Williams and claims the case should be thrown out after the Hunt County District Attorney’s Office may have acted on confidential information regarding Williams’ defense strategy.
Williams is facing a potential death sentence if convicted of capital murder. Trial is currently scheduled next April.
Susan E. Anderson and Mark Hendrickson with the public defender’s office filed an amended motion to dismiss the indictment due to prosecutorial misconduct with 196th District Court Judge Andrew Bench on Oct. 21.
The motion notes how ex parte defense witnesses met with Williams and the defense team at the Hunt County Detention Center and that the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office was instructed in writing to keep the visits confidential and the disclosure of any of the visits was prohibited.
“On multiple occasions, personnel with the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office logged into their Odyssey program, the name of the expert in addition to the dates and times they visited the accused,” the motion said, adding that the DA’s office has access to the system and learned of the identities of the witnesses.
Based on the information obtained, the motion said, Assistant District Attorney Steve Lilley filed a “Lagrone Motion” which sought to have Williams evaluated by mental health personnel retained by the prosecution.
The defense team claims the sheriff made an improper disclosure, which was used improperly by the prosecution which prejudiced Willliams’ chance for a fair trial.
“While the dismissal of the charging instrument is an extreme remedy, in some cases it is the only remedy that remove the taint of the improper use of privileged information,” the motion said.
Bench did not immediately take action, but advised the defense team to submit a formal brief to his court by Oct. 25 and instructed the district attorney’s office to file a response by Oct. 29. A hearing on the motion to dismiss has been scheduled for Nov. 15.
Williams, of San Marcos, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of capital murder in connection with the 2016 slayings of Nichole Elizabeth Gonzales, 27, and her mother, Vicki Ann Gonzales, 51 at a residence just outside of Commerce.
Williams, 33, is being held in the Hunt County Detention Center in lieu of a total of $1.18 million bond.
Williams’ indictment includes two counts of capital murder, alleging Williams killed the two women by stabbing or cutting them with a knife or sharp object.
A 911 call came in at around 1:20 p.m. June 17, 2016 from Vicki Gonzales, who was screaming for help and calling out Williams’ name. The call came from a home in the 7300 block of State Highway 50.
The Commerce Police Department was the first agency on the scene and found the women had been slain.
Williams’ vehicle was found about three miles away from the home.
A search began for Williams with the assistance of the Commerce Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice K-9 search team.
At approximately 11 p.m. the Commerce Police Department received a call of a suspicious person in the 2700 block of State Highway 24/50, at the intersection of Live Oak Street. When contacted by officers, Williams allegedly gave officers his brother’s name, but Williams’ identification was found in his possession.
Williams was taken into custody without incident.