Judge finds Jana Duty “intentionally” withheld evidence in murder case

GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — Court records made public Friday show Williamson County District Judge Rick Kennon has determined Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty intentionally withheld evidence in the murder trial of Crispin Harmel, who is awaiting a second trial for the 2009 death of Jessika Kalaher.

Duty is accused of withholding timestamped surveillance video from a Walmart parking lot where prosecutors believe Kalaher was killed. After Harmel’s defense attorneys were unable to gain access to the timestamped video, the judge declared a mistrial.  Harmel’s defense team argued Duty withheld the evidence in order to prompt a mistrial and Harmel should not be tried again citing “double jeopardy” in a Writ of Habeas Corpus filed in the case.

In Judge Kennon’s Findings of Fact & Conclusions of Law he states: “…Ms. Duty’s conduct in this case; in which she withheld evidence; repeatedly violated Court orders; expressed bias against the defendant and his Counsel; has been intentional and willful.”

The judge’s conclusions go on to state: “It is unknown to the court why Ms. Duty intentionally and willfully withheld the means to view timestamps on the Walmart Survelliance video other than from Ms. Duty’s statement that ‘[defense attorneys] acted so horribly to me during the first trial, that I just didn’t even want to speak to them.’ The Court does not approve of this conduct or the reason for it.  However, the Court finds no evidence that Ms. Duty intended to goad a mistrial or avoid an acquittal.”

Despite these findings and conclusions, Harmel will face a second trial currently slated for November since Judge Kennon denied the Writ of Habeas Corpus based on Double Jeopardy grounds.

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