Judge in Walters murder case orders DPS to release video

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Judge Joe D. Clayton signed an order on June 1 that directs the Texas Department of Public Safety to turn over a video sought by the defense in the Jason Walters murder case.

The order gave the DPS 10 days to produce the video for the court, which will provide copies to defense attorneys and to prosecutors.

Walters is charged with murdering Christopher James Griffin the night of June 15, 2014, behind the EZ-Mart in Mineola.

At a pre-trial hearing on April 25, former Wood County District Attorney Jim Wheeler testified that DPS Trooper Stephen Nichols showed him a video that made reference to Mineola police Capt. Joyce Box as well as the words “meth oil,” “protection” and “cartel.” Upon hearing the officer’s name, Wheeler immediately stopped viewing the video, he testified.

Wheeler testified that the video showed Nichols, a Hawkins police officer and a person reported to be a confidential informant. Box was the supervising officer in the Walters murder case and her affidavit served as the basis for Walters’ arrest warrant.

After hearing Box’s name on the video, he became obligated to share what he’d heard with Walters’ defense team under the 2016 Michael Morton Act, Wheeler testified. The DPS, however, refused to turn over to him a copy of the video, Wheeler testified. Viewing the video made him a potential defense witness, Wheeler testified.

He decided the correct thing to do was to recuse himself from the case, which he did only weeks before the trial was scheduled to start.

The DPS informed Box that she had never been the subject of an investigation, she testified.

The DPS also informed the Wood County District Attorney’s Office that Box had not been the target of an investigation, according to testimony at the hearing.

Thomas Cloudt, a state prosecutor in the case, suggested that the defense was attempting to impugn her character.

Nichols testified on April 25 that he could not recall showing the video to Wheeler, but he did have a separate conversation with him in regard to Box and allegations made by several local peace officers.

Walters’ trial is scheduled to start July 8, for which 15 days are set aside.

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