On Tuesday we reported that a 2011 drunken-driving case against Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton in Parker County won't be pursued because the state highway trooper who arrested her has been suspended and is unavailable to testify.
Many are convinced that Walton (shown here), one of the richest women in the world, used her influence to avoid being tried. (Her jail mugshot is below.)
Parker County Attorney John Forrest, who is in charge of prosecuting class B misdemeanors, said the heiress did not receive any special treatment.
He said the two-year statute of limitations was about to run out, and without the key witness, the case could not be filed.
He said Walton was "going to be treated just like any individual would be treated."
But there's a question several readers have asked, and it's a fair one. Why take two years to file a DWI case, even though the law says you can?
I wish I had asked it, so I tried again on Thursday.
First, he explained, law enforcement officers have to complete their investigations before they can present a case to his office. He said he has no control over how long officers take to do that.
Next, his office does its own investigation to determine if the proper charge is sought, or to see if any "enhancements" are possible.
And yes, Forrest confirmed there can be lengthy discussions with defense lawyers.
"That's why the law gives you two years to file," he said. "The curveball here was that, about the time we would've filed, we learned the witness was unavailable.
"The unethical thing would have been to proceed without evidence."
Forrest said he has been hearing jokes about this case all week long.
"It's unfortunate," he said, "but this is not the only case impacted by not having that particular witness available.
"It's not just about Alice."
-- Bill Miller