It has cost Upshur County taxpayers more than $19,700 to prosecute a Class A misdemeanor so far.Defending Class A and B misdemeanors, by comparison, earns attorneys $220-$440 per case in the same jurisdiction, the story notes.
District Judge Lauren Parish thought that amount was too excessive to defend a capital murder trial a few years ago.
Special prosecutor Rick Hagan and his assistant prosecutor Lew Dunn have yet to file their final bills with the county for trying the case of Upshur County Judge Dean Fowler, but have charged a collective $19,727 to date. A judge earlier in October issued a directed verdict of not guilty clearing Fowler of an official oppression charge and also quashing a charge of abuse of official capacity.
For the county’s taxpayers, the bills are likely just beginning as Hagan and Dunn still have to try cases against Sheriff Anthony Betterton and Commissioner Lloyd Crabtree, who also are charged with official oppression. Crabtree also faces an abuse of official capacity charge. The charges stem from a county resident being removed from a commissioners court meeting when he repeatedly wore duct tape over his mouth to protest that public comment had been removed from agendas.
Just a few years ago, however, District Judge Lauren Parish would have thought $19,727 was too much to defend a capital murder case.
In 2004, a jury found William Glenn Bulington Jr. guilty of capital murder. According to court records, on the week of Dec. 13-14, 2003, Bulington shot and killed Keith Crutcher and L.V. Johnson. Bulington loaded the bodies in the back of a pickup truck, then backed the truck up to a pond that was behind his house. He took the bodies out of the truck, loaded them onto a boat, tied ropes around their necks that were attached to cinder blocks and dumped the bodies in the water. The bodies were found in 2004.
Matthew Patton was Bulington’s court-appointed attorney and was aided by Robert Bennett, who was not court appointed.
When the trial concluded, Patton turned in a bill for $26,463 for his and Bennett’s services, according to the bill. The bill included 38 hours in court and 222 out of court for Patton, 30 hours in court for Bennett, as well as investigation and other expenses. Parish cut the bill, only approving $16,901, according to the payment she approved.
So to recap: For prosecuting a misdemeanor, money is no object; for defending misdemeanors, or for that matter for defending someone on trial for their life, penny pinching is the order of the day.