Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina and his wife were indicted yesterday in connection with a fire that destroyed their suburban Houston home last summer, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Medina, appointed by Gov. Rick Perry in 2004, was charged with evidence tampering, and his wife, Francisca Medina, was charged with arson in indictments handed up by a Harris County grand jury. In an odd twist, Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal told Houston TV station KHOU that he would file a motion in court to dismiss the grand jury indictments for lack of evidence.
A defense attorney blamed the episode on a “runaway grand jury,” but Quorum Report, an online journal of Texas politics, quoted the grand jury’s assistant foreman as accusing Rosenthal of engaging in a political cover-up to benefit Medina, a fellow Republican. “Rosenthal resisted these indictments with a vigor I have never seen or heard before,” grand juror Jeffrey Dorrell was quoted as saying. “The DA’s office called my office last week and said we should not meet, the case was not viable and we should not indict. Obviously, that came from the top. Twelve citizens have put in countless hours on this issue. It is very irritating for someone who was not in the room with us to decide not to prosecute.” The fire was ruled suspicious because a fire investigation dog detected an accelerant and because a mortgage company had filed for foreclosure on the house, which investigators said raised a “red flag.” The home was uninsured because payments on the policy had lapsed.