Murder suspect still missing hours before trial scheduled to begin

The search for Kevin Michael Waguespack, scheduled to start his murder trial a few days after he disappeared, continued on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. (KXAN Photo/Chris Davis)
The search for Kevin Michael Waguespack, scheduled to start his murder trial a few days after he disappeared, continued on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. (KXAN Photo/Chris Davis)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man accused of killing his girlfriend is still missing as of Monday morning, just hours before his murder trial is scheduled to start at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center.

Kevin Michael Waguespack, 34, has been missing since Thursday when he didn’t show up for his final pre-trial hearing. Investigators worked through the weekend to track him down but have yet to find him. Police and prosecutors say Waguespack killed his girlfriend, Catherine Dyer, on Nov. 16, 2015.

If investigators are able to catch Waguespack in enough time to get him to the courthouse by 9 a.m., he can still face the murder charge as scheduled. If not, the District Attorney’s Office tells KXAN the trial will be delayed, but not forgotten.

A delay would cost the county thousands of dollars, as the Travis County District Attorney’s Office would have to re-book flights for out-of-town witnesses, to say nothing of law enforcement and overtime costs. It would likely delay the proceedings a month or more.

Waguespack has been out on $250,000 bail since June 2016, and earlier this year a judge removed the GPS monitor he had been ordered to wear. That decision came after his attorney filed a motion to remove the device “due to employment concerns,” court records show. The DA’s office objected, but Judge Tamara Needles sided with the defendant. Waguespack also had to surrender his passport and not travel outside Travis County.

Now, the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force and private investigators working for the bail bondsman that put up the money to get him out of jail are searching for him. An employee with the bail bond company, Freedom Bail Bonds, said they didn’t know the GPS had been removed; the company strongly considers that bail condition for high-profile defendants when deciding whether to put up money in the first place.

Dyer’s family members are driving in for the trial from Houston and Oklahoma. Her sister, Tinah King, and her mother, Beverly Dyer, told KXAN last week they don’t think he should have been out of jail in the first place.

“It’s not a justice system for Catherine,” Beverly Dyer said, “it’s a justice system for the person that killed Catherine.”

Waguespack’s attorney has declined to speak with KXAN on camera. Up until Thursday, the defendant had been showing up to his other hearings and checking in weekly with the bail bondsman.

District attorney frustrated with county judge

District Attorney Margaret Moore says Waguespack would not be on the run if a Travis County judge would have listened to her office and not taken off his GPS tracking device.

“I think it’s an unacceptable situation,” said Moore, “We do everything we can to do it right and bring a person in and then have the system fail this way, is very frustrating.”

That frustration is targeted at Travis County Criminal Court Judge Tamara Needles who signed an order to allow Waguespack’s GPS tracker to be removed for employment reasons. The district attorney objected because Waguespack fled two years ago to Mississippi before he was caught. The judge signed the order in April.

“When it’s a very serious charge like murder and the defendant is already fled the jurisdiction once, it seems to me that a judge should not enter an order like this,” said Moore.

KXAN reached out to Judge Needles to see if she wanted to respond to the district attorney. Her office tells KXAN she does not comment on cases in her court.

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