Family upset that murder suspect is not indicted — for a 2nd time

Posted Friday, Jun. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The sister of a man found fatally shot inside his house in 2001 said she’s outraged that, for the second time, a Tarrant County grand jury has declined to indict a former California prison inmate who was linked to the crime scene through DNA.

William Tony Anderson was charged with capital murder in March 2012 after a DNA database linked him to biological evidence recovered in the robbery and fatal shooting of Brett Curlee, a 36-year-old man found slain in the garage of his Woodhaven home in east Fort Worth on March 6, 2001.

Though Anderson, 34, told investigators that he did not know Curlee and had never been inside his house, a search warrant affidavit says Anderson matched DNA recovered from a sock found stuck under the driver-side door handle of Curlee’s Dodge Durango, not far from Curlee’s body, and from a beer can inside Curlee’s home.

In addition, investigators had earlier traced Curlee’s stolen cellphone to Anderson, who, according to his cousin, had sold it for $50 before moving to Cailfornia.

“It’s a slap in the face. It’s just totally unbelievable that they could not see the facts that were right before their face,” Curlee’s sister, Andrea Maahfuz, said Friday. “... What did they need? A picture of him holding a gun to Brett’s head?”

A grand jury first no-billed Anderson in connection with the case in May 2012, days before he was released from a California prison after serving a 32-month sentence for possession of a firearm by a felon.

“This 12-year-old case was initially presented last year to a Tarrant County grand jury, which reviewed all of the evidence and circumstances of the case and made a decision not to indict,” Melody McDonald, a spokeswoman for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office said Friday. “Following that no-bill, prosecutors requested additional DNA testing and Fort Worth police detectives also continued their investigation of the case.”

McDonald said the case was recently taken before a different grand jury, which heard evidence from numerous witnesses. On Monday, the grand jury declined to indict, she said.

“We are not privy to the reasons for their decisions,” she said.

Steve Gordon, Anderson’s defense attorney, declined to comment Friday.

“Clearly we were disappointed by the decision because we felt it was a strong case but we have not given up hope and we will continue to work diligently for Brett’s family,” said Fort Worth homicide Sgt. Cheryl Johnson.

Maahfuz doesn’t believe prosecutors brought enough evidence during their first presentation of the case last year.

“The grand jury comes in at 9’oclock, and by 10 o’clock, they had already come back with their decision. Not much time at all was spent on presenting this to the grand jury the first time,” Maahfuz said.

She said that while more witnesses testified in the second presentation to the grand jury, she is upset that prosecutors did not call the lead investigator, cold case Detective Kerry Adcock, or any other homicide detectives who worked on the case.

“If they’re going to call them to testify in court, why don’t they call them to the grand jury?” Maahfuz asked. “These grand juries, they do not have a criminal background. These detectives know how these criminals work. If you want the grand jury to make an educated decision, then they need to be educated on how and why these detectives come up with their theories.”

Maahfuz said that when she questioned prosecutor Lloyd Whelchel on why Adcock wasn’t called to testify, he told her that grand jurors were shown Adcock’s notes.

“I think the grand jury could have asked a lot of questions to clarify any questions that they might have had on the whole investigation,” Maahfuz said. “I don’t think reading notes is adequate.”

McDonald responded, “Generally speaking, detectives’ reports are usually sufficient and their presence is not required.”

“If the grand jury desires more information, they have the authority to request additional information or to hear from additional witnesses, including law enforcement, civilians or experts,” McDonald said.

Maahfuz said she she’s left to wonder if grand jurors were influenced in their decision simply because they learned that her brother was gay.

“Possibly the grand jury had preconceived notions on what they think a gay lifestyle meant — basically that it was not monogamous,” Maahfuz said, adding that her brother had been involved in a relationship for 12 years.

“It’s just a guess because I can’t come up with anything else. I just draw a blank. I just cannot figure it out. It’s so frustrating.”

Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655 Twitter: @deannaboyd

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