Things went pretty normally in a Matagorda County, Texas, murder case a few decades ago......for awhile. The case was presented by the district attorney's office to the grand jury which is normal. The grand jury indicted the case....which is not unusual. But that's when things went from normal to bizarre.
The indictment was sealed, according to a recent episolde of Cold Justice on TNT which stars former Houston prosecutor Kelly Siegler. Siegler and her team of investigators trekked to the county in which she grew up to investigate this case that was colder than the Arctic Circle. Siegler and her colleagues had no idea the case had ever been presented to a grand jury. Apparently, no one else did either.
When an indictment is sealed it remains secret from everyone except the district attorney's office who presented the case.
Operating on the assumption the case had never been presented to a grand jury Siegler and her team met with an investigator in Matagorda County who was interested in solving the case. They reviewed his file and determined there were two suspects in the case including the victim's son and her boyfriend.
Siegler, who has 200 jury trials under her belt during a successful career as a Harris County prosecutor, rose through the ranks to become the Bureau Chief of Special Crimes, as a result of her remarkable record.
Siegler and her team realized they couldn't interview the son because he was in Africa working in an oil field so they visited with the boyfriend. After an interrogation of him they determined he was innocent and devoted their attention to the son.
When Siegler and her team come to the conclusion the there is probable cause to arrest the son, they present their case to the current district attorney who was not in office at the time of the murder. She receives a phone call the next day from the DA's office requesting she meet with him.
She emerges from the meeting with astonishing news. The son had actually been indicted decades ago shortly after the murder! The intriguing twist is the indictment was sealed so the public was not even aware he'd been indicted.
Yolanda McClary, a respected crime scene investigator formerly with the Las Vegas Police Deparment, teams up with Siegler as her main partner in this series involving the investigation of real unsolved crimes. Produced by Dick Wolf, who was the mastermind behind Law and Order, the show has already enjoyed great ratings after only three episodes. These cases are ripped from headlines several decades ago.
The case in Matagorda County involves the murder of a woman 30 years ago in Siegler's hometown of Palacios, Texas.
Siegler first attracted national attention when she dramatically re-enacted the stabbing murder of Susan Wright's husband during that jury trial in Houston. She had a bed brought into the courtroom and re-enacted the 193 stabs in front of the jury.
She is also respected for looking for the truth wherever that trail may lead. She found proof to help overturn the conviction of Anthony Graves who was ensconced in the Texas penitentiary system for 18 years.
With private investigator Johnny Bonds part of the team, Siegler and McClary use old-fashioned investigative techniques such as re-interviewing witnesses and sometimes sending evidence which has never before been tested to labs.
This show is unique in that it focuses on a time of historic change in the world of criminal investigations. Many of the cold cases they investigate occurred prior to the use of DNA testing in a forensic setting.
As Bonds says in one of the shows, "We solved a lot of cases before DNA even existed."
Another fascinating aspect of this series is that the crime scenes are normally in small towns across America rather than the big city venues of New York City or Los Angeles. Some of the smaller communities don't have the financial resources necessary to employ all the modern day testing which can solve cases.
Siegler's team provides a tremendous service in being able to provide the resources which may lead to the solving of a surprising number of cold cases as this excellent series continues.
Fans will be glad to hear the series can be seen on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on TNT. Those who haven't watched the show yet will have the opportunity to see professionals at the top of their fields in action if they tune into the weekly episodes.
Siegler retired from the Harriss County DA's office after her stellar career with 68 murder verdicts of guilty and not a single not guilty from a jury. She has her own law firm in Houston and represents her clients diligently when she's not on the road solving cold cases in rural America.
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