JAMAICA BEACH — The Galveston County District Attorney’s Office has dismissed a pair of felony theft charges against a demolition company owner, saying there was insufficient evidence to pursue the case.
Jerald Wayne Brown, 51, of Texas City was indicted by a grand jury in January 2012 on two counts of felony theft from James Robert O’Donnel Jr.
The indictments stemmed from bulkhead work done on O’Donnel’s former property in Jamaica Beach.
O’Donnel accused Brown of cashing two checks, totaling $13,300, and of failing to finish the work.
O’Donnel said he wrote the checks without checking to see whether the work was completed. He was busy caring for his terminally ill mother in Houston.
O’Donnel also said he took a $30,000 loss in selling the property because the bulkhead wasn’t acceptable and had to be rebuilt.
Brown said he kept receipts for the project and took pictures of the work, which he presented to the district attorney’s office.
“The pictures and receipts saved my behind,” Brown said. “Now, I’m going to have to pay another attorney $2,000 or $3,000 to get it taken off my record.”
Donnie Quintanilla, Brown’s attorney, said his client did the work, but that it was just not up to O’Donnel’s satisfaction.
“In 2012, (prosecutor Ted) Mora was taken off my case,” O’Donnel said. “I don’t know why.”
O’Donnel said he was unhappy with the prosecutor who took over the case and that the office declined to prosecute after receiving a grand jury indictment.
“I don’t see how they can disregard a decision by the grand jury,” O’Donnel said. “I’m stunned by that.”
Galveston County Criminal District Attorney Jack Roady said prosecutors don’t stop working on cases when indictments are returned. The investigation and research continues until trial.
When a grand jury issues an indictment, it means the panel heard enough evidence to send the case to trial. Obtaining a conviction, however, requires more than probable cause.
“To bring a case to trial, we have to believe, in good faith, that we can prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the conduct in question is criminal,” Roady said.
Prosecutors spent a “great deal” of time and resources pursuing every avenue to ensure the case could be proven as a criminal matter rather than a civil dispute, Roady said.
Prosecutors decided March 4 to dismiss both felony theft cases against Brown, citing insufficient evidence, court documents state.
The decision to dismiss is never made flippantly or without thorough investigation, Roady said, noting that he understood O’Donnel was unhappy with the decision.
“At the end of the day, though, our obligation is to do justice,” Roady said. “And in this case, there was insufficient evidence to prove criminal conduct beyond a reasonable doubt. The right thing to do was not bring the case to trial.”