Claims made to prosecutors by the son of a La Marque man accused of killing his wife in 2016 have postponed the start of a murder trial that was supposed to begin next week.
Defense attorneys for Johnny Oliphant said the recent discovery of emails sent between the couple’s son and prosecutors raise new questions about who is culpable in the death of Gina Oliphant.
Johnny Oliphant was arrested in December 2016 and charged with murder over Gina Oliphant’s death at their home in La Marque. Gina Oliphant was shot in the neck at the family’s home on Fleming Street in La Marque.
Johnny Oliphant’s jury trial was scheduled to begin on Sep. 9, but in a motion filed on Aug. 29, defense attorney Susan Criss asked for at least another 90 days to review documents that had recently been turned over by the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office.
On Wednesday, Galveston 122nd District Court Judge John Ellisor ordered that the trial be reset to Nov. 4.
Criss’ motion was based on hundreds of emails sent to the district attorney’s office by Dylan Oliphant, one of Johnny and Gina Oliphant’s sons.
In the emails, Dylan Oliphant provided information to prosecutors that “bears on the murder charges and on what really happened to Gina Oliphant,” Criss wrote. The emails include claims that other members of the Oliphant family had helped cover up evidence related to the killing, or helped facilitate it, Criss wrote.
It’s unclear how closely prosecutors or police investigators examined Dylan Oliphant’s claims. Criss’ motion also references “bizarre conversations” that Dylan Oliphant had with other people, including a psychic and accusations of spying on other attorneys involved in the various pieces of litigation related to Gina Oliphant’s death.
She also noted that emails appear to contradict each other at times.
“Dylan Oliphant accuses a lot of people of a lot of things,” Criss wrote. “He alternates between accusing the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office of malfeasances and incompetence and than apologizing and thanking them. He accuses defense counsel of a host of bad acts and intentions.”
Criss was “uncertain of what to make of all of Dylan’s statements,” she wrote.
Still, the extent of the emails and the statements contained inside them required a delay in the trial, Criss said. She attempted to print out the emails after receiving them from the district attorney’s office, she said. The process took all day and resulted in a stack of paper four inches high, she said.
The contents of the emails could possibly alter Johnny Oliphant’s defense plans, Criss said. Going into the trial, she said she was planning on arguing that Johnny Oliphant had taken a large dose of Ambien mixed with alcohol, and he did not remember what happened at the time of the shooting.
Despite the judge’s order to delay the trial, the Galveston District Attorney’s Office said it had no immediate plans to change its strategies to prosecute Johnny Oliphant.
“We feel confident in our evidence against Johnny Oliphant, and we are prepared to put that evidence forward to a jury,” said First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Petroff.
The delay is the latest twist in a story that has been marked by strange details.
When Johnny Oliphant was arrested on Dec. 21, 2016, he told police that he shot his wife after she woke him up by biting him, according to a police affidavit
Last year, Dylan Oliphant filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his father. That lawsuit was dismissed in June, after Dylan Oliphant’s attorneys removed themselves from the case, according to court documents.
That lawsuit did not mention the same theories that Criss said were raised in the group of emails shared by prosecutors.
A second wrongful death lawsuit, filed by the administrators of Gina Oliphant’s estate, is still active and scheduled to go to trial in November, according to court records.