WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas - A lot of questions remain unanswered about the video of a struggle in 2019 that lead up to the death of Javier Ambler. The video was recorded by an APD body Camera and released last year by former Travis County DA Margret Moore.
In a virtual court hearing on Monday, questions about another, unseen, video were raised by defense attorneys for former Sheriff Robert Chody and assistant county attorney Jason Nassour.
"We shouldn't have to guess as to what we are having to defend against. That’s the purpose of a Grand Jury Indictment, not to just track the language of the Statute and say OK, guess what we are going to prove," said defense attorney Joe Turner.
Judge Sid Harle appeared concerned about the information blackout by prosecutors. Despite that, he denied a defense motion to have the case thrown out.
Former sheriff, Chody didn't view the decision as a loss. "We were just very pleased with the court willing to hear our side of the story at this point, and I look forward to our day in court," said Chody.
The indictments against Chody and Nassour are vague and short on details. It’s alleged the two were involved in destroying and concealing video of the Javier Ambler incident.
A LivePD crew was with Williamson County deputies the night Ambler refused to stop for a minor traffic offense. He allegedly failed to dim his headlights while driving on I-35. The video of the chase was never shown on TV and it was eventually erased.
A contract the production company had with the county allowed for raw video to be deleted from servers after 30 days.
"So again we are going to have to be careful because I cannot talk about specifics of the case, our ethical rules really prevent us from giving any details. That will all become apparent as the proceedings go on but, suffice it to say, we spent several months putting this all together and presenting a large number of witnesses to the grand jury and a grand jury in Williamson County believed that there was probable cause to believe that these offenses were committed within Williamson County. It will continue in Travis County to determine what offenses were committed in Travis County," said Dick at the media event.
Monday during the hearing, Dick added to the confusion. He admitted the contract was a key part of the indictment but said the alleged crime was not just one act. He claims criminal activity took place over a number of months, in a number of different locations. But again he provided no details which defense attorneys argued puts them in an unfair position.
"The citizen accused should know what the hell he is accused of doing. At least he can prepare a defense to it, if it’s the contract, then we want to be able to defend on the contract issue, and I saw that’s not even a crime. If they are saying we took the tapes and burned them ourselves, well then we need to know," said Turner.
Prosecutors were told to provide the defense more details before the next hearing. Prosecutors said an investigative report is still being worked on. Judge Harle was told it is being done by a special unit in Travis County.
It's not known when that report will be done.
The judge also plans to review the transcript of grand jury testimony. After that happens, warned the motion to throw the case out could be reconsidered.