Thursday, February 02, 2017

Twice-weekly paper in Texas runs in-depth series on events surrounding local murder case

George Malone (above)
and Deborah Malone Wilson (left)
on the day of the attack in 2009
The Hood County Times, a twice-weekly in Granbury, Texas, has been running an in-depth series on a local murder case, in which an adult brother and sister were sentenced to 99 years in prison for killing their father, who had been accused of being a lifelong sexual and physical abuser, raising the possibility that the children may have been acting in self-defense.

But a case that appeared bungled, and state laws preventing certain types of testimony, have left many wondering who was the true victim.

During Deborah Malone Wilson's 2010 murder trial of her 82-year-old father George Malone, any time a witness veered toward talking about abuse "the state objected and that was the end of that," Kathy Cruz writes. "At that time—September 2010—Section 38.371 had not been added to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. The statute is intended to give juries context that might help explain a single event, since single events often don’t tell the full story in family violence cases."

Every effort was made to avoid victim-blaming of George, who "was portrayed as 'a poor old man' who had been viciously attacked by two of his ungrateful adult children," said Paul Hyde, a juror on Deborah's trial, and also of her brother David, in a separate case, Cruz writes. Hyde said he "believes that, had more testimony been allowed about Malone, the jury might have reached a different verdict."

Kelsey McKay, a former prosecutor in Travis County, home to Austin, said Section 38.371, "which can be used by both the state and the defense, might have helped Wilson had it been in effect at the time she was taken to trial," Cruz writes. "For instance, the judge might have allowed the defense to put on the stand a woman who had filed a harassment claim against Malone two years before the incident." Wilson claims that the woman, who was allowing George to pick up her daughter from school, took the action after she warned her that Malone was a pedophile. "Wilson said that her father’s behavior toward her escalated after that, and that she feels the protective order he sought against her shortly before his death was retaliation."

Granbury, Texas (Best Places map)
Other stories in the series:

A specialist says there were obvious signs of self-defense by the convicted murderers, yet no experts were called to the stand. No experts in the fields of domestic and sexual violence were called to the stand. A look at how the county fails to help victims of abuse. A look at events the day of the attack. What neighbors thought of George Malone. An interview with the district attorney, who believes the children were willing participants in the murder. Also, Deborah Malone Wilson's pleas to have her lawyer replaced went unheeded and Danny Malone, brother of the convicted murderers, said he was abused by his father and "it could have been me that killed him."

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