Three Assistant Criminal DAs Named
as Texas Super Lawyers for 2005
Three Tarrant County Assistant Criminal District
Attorneys have been named to the 2005 list of Texas
Super Lawyers. Alan Levy and Joe Shannon were selected
in the area of criminal prosecution, while Marvin
Collins was named in the area of government law.
Super Lawyers is a listing of Texas Lawyers who have
attained a high degree of peer recognition and
professional achievement. Only five percent of Texas
lawyers are named Super Lawyers.
Tarrant County is the only district attorney’s office in
Texas to have more than one prosecutor recognized in
Criminal Prosecution. It is the only office of any kind
to have lawyers recognized in both Criminal Prosecution
and Government Law.
Alan Levy has served as chief of the Criminal Division
since 1986. He is board certified in criminal law by the
Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is a frequent
speaker across the country on issues related to criminal
trials. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial
Lawyers, as well as a Fellow of the Texas Bar
Marvin Collins was reinstated as chief of the Civil
Division when he returned to the District Attorney’s
Office in 1993. He supervises the legal staff that
represents the Tarrant County government and its
officials and the Tarrant County Hospital District.
After his law school graduation, Mr. Collins worked as
an attorney in private practice for five years before
joining the District Attorney’s Office in September
1975. He became chief of the Appellate Division in
January 1976, and was assigned as chief of the Civil
Division in March 1978. He left the District Attorney’s
Office in 1981 and served fourteen months as Judge of
the Criminal District Court Number One of Tarrant
County. When Mr. Collins returned to the District
Attorney’s Office in January 1983, he was reinstated as
chief of the Civil Division until his appointment by
President Ronald Reagan in 1985 as United States
Attorney for the Northern District of Texas (Dallas-Fort
Worth). He was then reappointed by President George Bush
in 1990 and served until 1993.
Mr. Collins is a frequent author and speaker at various
seminars. He is a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and
is one of a handful of Texas attorneys to have been
board certified in criminal law for 30 years
Joe Shannon, Jr. returned to the District Attorney’s
Office from private practice in 1999 to become chief of
the Economic Crimes Division. He originally joined the
office on November 27, 1972, when District Attorney Joe
Shannon Jr. was sworn into office. He served as chief of the
Criminal Division until he left the office in 1978.
Mr. Shannon has been listed as a Texas Super Lawyer in
criminal prosecution since 2003. He is a frequent
speaker to groups across the United States and to
various local bar associations. He is an adjunct
professor at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law. He
is a Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. He served
as president of the Tarrant County Bar Association from
In 1977, Mr. Shannon prosecuted the high-profile Cullen
Davis murder case. While in private practice in 1972, he
defended Thomas Shannon (no relation), Speaker Pro Tem
of the Texas House of Representatives, against charges
of conspiracy to accept a bribe in the Sharpstown Stock
Fraud Scandal. Mr. Shannon served in the Texas House of
Representatives from 1964-71, and as administrative
assistant to the House Speaker from 1971-72.
The complete list of Texas Super Lawyers appears in the
October 2005 issue of Texas Monthly and Texas Super
Lawyers magazines. The list also can be viewed online at
Teenager Sentenced to Prison
for Intoxication Manslaughter Involving Driving and Drug
On December 18, 2004, nineteen-year-old Levi Nathan
Auldridge was coming down from a methamphetamine high
when he narrowly missed colliding with another car
before he crashed head-on into Rene Hinjosa’s car.
Twenty-four-year-old Hinojosa, who was in town visiting
his family for the holidays, died within minutes from
massive head and chest trauma.
After the collision, Auldridge made no attempt to aid
Hinojosa or to call for help. Instead, he found a place
on the roadside to hide his Crown Royal bag full of
methamphetamine, marijuana, dealer baggies, and a scale.
He then sat on the curb.
At the scene, Auldridge passed the field sobriety tests
given by the police. However, he repeatedly zoned out
and fell asleep while the police interviewed him. He
admitted that he had been using methamphetamine for a
couple of days and claimed not to remember how the
accident had happened. Tests on Auldridge’s blood showed
0.17 milligrams per liter of methamphetamine.
This case was unusual for Tarrant County because
prosecutors sought a conviction of intoxication
manslaughter for driving under the influence of drugs,
not alcohol. At trial, prosecutors argued that Auldridge
lacked the normal use of his mental faculties when he
collided with Hinojosa because he was coming down from a
high following his methamphetamine binge. The State’s
expert testified that coming down from a methamphetamine
high could cause fatigue and uncontrollable sleepiness.
Auldridge’s extensive history of drug use began when he
was ten years old. He was on probation in two felony
cases when this crime occurred. As part of his
probation, Auldridge had received inpatient drug
treatment from February to September 2004. After that,
he was released to an aftercare halfway house. Only nine
days before he killed Hinojosa, Auldridge had refused to
give a urine sample and had walked out of the halfway
The jury convicted Auldridge of intoxication
manslaughter following less than an hour of
deliberations. The jury took only twenty minutes to
sentence Auldridge to eighteen years in prison.
Auldridge’s sentence in this case was stacked with the
sixteen-month sentence he received when his probation
was revoked in his previous case.
“Our jury gave the Hinojosa family some justice for the
senseless death of their son,” said Assistant Criminal
District Attorney Mollee Westfall, who prosecuted
Auldridge. “They also sent a strong message of zero
tolerance for driving under the influence of drugs,” she
Appellate chief selected for
Court of Criminal Appeals’ Rules Advisory Committee
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has selected Charles
Mallin, chief of the District Attorney’s appellate
section, to serve on its Rules Advisory Committee. The
six-member committee assists the Court in suggesting
additions, deletions, and modifications to the Texas
Rules of Evidence and the Texas Rules of Appellate
Procedure. The committee includes Mr. Mallin, three
judges, a defense attorney, and an academician
Mr. Mallin has appeared before the Court of Criminal
Appeals on behalf of the State in numerous significant
criminal appeals. Prior to joining the District
Attorney’s Office in 1991, Mr. Mallin worked for the
Court of Criminal Appeals as a research attorney to
Judge Rusty Duncan from 1987-91 and as a deputy public
defender in Los Angeles, California.
Mr. Mallin is board certified in criminal law by the
Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is a frequent
author and speaker on various criminal law topics and is
an adjunct professor of law in criminal procedure at
Texas Wesleyan University School of Law.
Catholic school teacher
convicted of sexually abusing student
Dawn Reiser, a Grapevine Catholic school teacher,
befriended and sexually abused her thirteen-year-old
During the spring of 2004, Reiser and the victim talked
on the telephone, on the computer, and in person without
his mother’s knowledge. Reiser told the victim that she
loved him, and they discussed getting married when he
In early June 2004, Reiser met the victim at a
Colleyville park. The victim later told police that they
“made out” and fondled each other at the park. On June
10, 2004, Reiser drove the victim to her Euless home,
where they engaged in sexual activity.
Days later, the victim attended a summer church camp.
While there, the victim received letters from Reiser
stating that she loved and missed him. She instructed
him to open the letters alone and to destroy them.
Wanting to clear his conscience, the victim turned over
Reiser’s letters to a camp counselor and revealed that
he had been sexually involved with his teacher. Camp
officials contacted the police.
When the police searched Reiser’s home, they discovered
items described by the victim as being used by Reiser
during the sexual assault at her house and stationary
matching the letters sent to the victim. Forensic
testing found Reiser’s DNA on two of the letters turned
over by the victim.
Reiser denied having a relationship with the victim and
called him a vindictive liar. She initiated a
fundraising and propaganda website and enlisted
supporters who vocally disparaged the victim.
The jury convicted Reiser of aggravated sexual assault
and indecency with a child and assessed sentences of
eight years in prison and ten years probation,
respectively. Assistant Criminal District Attorney Mitch
Poe, who heads the Crimes Against Children Unit and
prosecuted Reiser, said that the victim’s family “could
once again hold their heads high” following the jury’s
Reiser will serve four years before becoming eligible
for parole. Additionally, she must register as a sex
offender, and she will be permanently banned from
“The jury in this case clearly sent Tarrant County a
message that female perpetrators of child crimes will be
held as accountable as their male counterparts,” Poe
JUSTICE FOR GRAPEVINE POLICE
Four-year police veteran Darren Medlin, 34, was
killed by a drunk driver during a routine traffic stop.
He was the first Grapevine police officer to be killed
in the line of duty in the history of the Grapevine
Police Department, which was formed in 1956.
The night of June 12, 2004, Officer Medlin had stopped a
speeding Ford Mustang on Texas 121. As the officer stood
beside the car, Roy Alvin Adams was traveling down the
highway to his Bedford home after a night of drinking at
two Dallas nightclubs. Adams’ Lincoln struck Officer
Medlin, who was thrown onto the car’s windshield and
flipped high into the air. Officer Medlin died
immediately at the scene.
Adams’ car was disabled by the crash, and he stopped
near the scene. His blood-alcohol level was 0.11 an hour
At trial, the jury watched a tape of the offense from
Officer Medlin’s in-car video camera. The defense
attempted to persuade the jury that Adams had suffered a
seizure when he hit Officer Medlin. The jury rejected
the defense’s scenario and convicted Adams of
At punishment, Adams sought probation, while the State
requested a penitentiary sentence. The defense argued
that the only reason the State had requested a prison
sentence was because the victim was a police officer.
Prosecutor Richard Alpert responded that Adams deserved
a prison term, not because the victim was a police
officer, but because Officer Medlin “was a man who loved
his family . . . a man who knew responsibility.”
The jury sentenced Adams to twelve and a half years in
prison. He must serve half of his sentence before
becoming eligible for parole.
Following the trial, Officer Medlin’s widow expressed
her satisfaction with the punishment verdict. “He’s not
coming back, but Darren still had the last word. He got
another drunk driver off the streets,” she said.
First Woman Sentenced to Death in
Richardson recently became the first female sentenced to
death in Tarrant County. Richardson, her boyfriend
Andrew Wamsley, and her best friend Susana Toledano were
nineteen years old when they murdered Andrew’s parents
in their upscale Mansfield home after months of planning
and failed attempts.
“The crime was planned for two months [and the] motive
was pure greed,” said Tarrant County prosecutor Mike
Parrish. “They planned this double murder to get the
proceeds of a one million dollar insurance policy,” he
Andrew and Chelsea began dating in January 2003. Around
October 2003, they decided that Andrew’s parents, Rick
and Suzanna Wamsley, and his sister, Sarah, had to die
so that Andrew could inherit the family’s estate.
Chelsea recruited Susana to help. Susana had moved in
with Chelsea because of problems with her mother, and
Susana had grown very dependent on Chelsea. Chelsea knew
that she could convince Susana to do anything for her,
including murder Andrew’s parents. In order to convince
Susana to participate in the killings, Chelsea held it
over Susana’s head that Susana lived rent-free with
Chelsea’s family and that Chelsea or Andrew provided
Susana’s only means of transportation to work.
Chelsea, Andrew, and Susana frequented an IHOP
restaurant in south Arlington, where they often
discussed their plans to kill Andrew’s family. They
befriended the restaurant’s manager,
twenty-four-year-old Hilario Cardenas, and convinced him
with promises of money to join their scheme.
Over time, the foursome discussed various ways to murder
the Wamsleys. Their plans included having Hilario cut
the brake lines on the family’s vehicle and having him
accompany Andrew and Susana to the Wamsleys’ house and
stage a robbery after murdering Andrew’s parents.
At some point, Chelsea convinced Hilario to get a gun
for the group. Chelsea, Andrew, and Susana went target
shooting at a nearby pond to prepare for the killings.
The afternoon of November 9, 2003, Chelsea waited at
home to establish an alibi while Andrew and Susana
located his parents and sister in the family’s Jeep
Laredo on I-35 in Burleson. As Andrew drove, Susana sat
in the back seat and shot at the gas tank of the
Wamsleys’ vehicle in hopes that it would explode. A
bullet hit the Jeep, but Susana was unable to shoot the
gas tank. Andrew’s family was uninjured. Although the
police were called, they uncovered no leads.
After that, the plan changed to killing the Wamsleys at
home. Because Susana had failed to kill the Wamsleys by
shooting their gas tank, Chelsea convinced her that she
had to make things right by acting as the shooter.
Late one night, Chelsea, Andrew, and Susana entered the
Wamsleys’ house so that Susana could shoot Andrew’s
sleeping parents. However, Susana decided that she could
not go through with the plan, and the group snuck out of
On December 9, 2003, Susana received a text message from
Chelsea that they had to murder the Wamsleys that night.
Susana accompanied Andrew and Chelsea to the Wamsleys’
house in the early morning hours of December 10. After
the trio entered the house, Chelsea coached Susana about
how to carry out the shootings.
After Chelsea’s pep talk, Susana shot Andrew’s mother
in the head as she slept on the living room sofa. She
Next, Susana went to the master bedroom, where Mr.
Wamsley had awakened to the sound of the gunshot. He
charged toward Susana as she fired into the bedroom. A
bullet struck him above the eyebrow. Mr. Wamsley managed
to tackle Susana, who hit the floor and lost the gun.
Chelsea then picked up the weapon and shot Mr. Wamsley
in the back to make him let go of Susana.
When there were no more bullets in the gun, Chelsea
retrieved two knives from the kitchen. Meanwhile, Mr.
Wamsley and Andrew struggled into the entryway as Mr.
Wamsley pleaded with his son and asked why this was
happening. Chelsea lied that she was pregnant and
threatened to shoot Mr. Wamsley if he did not shut up.
As the struggle continued, Chelsea ordered Susana
to return to the living room and stab Mrs. Wamsley to
ensure that she was dead. When Susana returned to the
entry way, Mr. Wamsley was face down on the floor, and
Susana stabbed him in the back.
When Mr. and Mrs. Wamsley were dead, Chelsea, Andrew,
and Susana fled. They threw their outer clothing into a
trash bag that Chelsea had brought along. Then, they
went to Chelsea’s house and cleaned up. Later in the
morning, they cleaned and detailed Andrew’s car. Susana
followed her usual routine of going to school and then
At about 11:40 p.m. that night, an open
line 911 call originated from the Wamsleys’ house. When
the Mansfield police arrived a few minutes later, no one
responded from inside. They noticed that the garage door
and the door leading from the garage into the kitchen
Upon entering the house, the police
discovered the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Wamsley. “It was
an incredibly brutal and frightening crime scene,” said
Tarrant County prosecutor Page Simpson. Mr. Wamsley had
been shot in the head and stabbed over thirty times in
the chest and back, while Mrs. Wamsley had been shot in
the head and stabbed more than thirteen times in the
chest. An autopsy revealed several hairs clutched in Mr.
Wamsley’s hand, but no other physical evidence was
When Chelsea, Andrew, and Susana were called
before the grand jury, they lied about where they had
been when the Wamsleys were murdered. Chelsea convinced
Jeremy Lavender, a mentally challenged
nineteen-year-old, to provide her and her friends with a
false alibi. Chelsea had befriended Lavender and made
him think that he was her boyfriend. When Jeremy’s story
failed to withstand police scrutiny, he admitted
providing the false alibi at Chelsea’s request.
Authorities went months without solid evidence in
the case. They finally got a break in March 2004 when
tests matched Susana’s DNA to the hair found clasped in
Mr. Wamsley’s hand.
As a result of the DNA match, police arrested Susana in
Illinois on April 5, 2004. Still under Chelsea’s
influence, and following Chelsea’s instructions, Susana
immediately implicated only herself and Hilario in the
murders. She protected Chelsea and Andrew.
As a result of Susana’s statements, police
arrested Hilario in Arlington the next day. He then
implicated Andrew and Chelsea in the murders, and police
arrested the couple.
While in jail awaiting trial, Chelsea discussed her
involvement in the Wamsleys’ murders with several
inmates and attempted to convince them to testify on her
behalf. She began calling one inmate “mom” and passed
her a note the day after the trial began instructing her
to memorize Chelsea’s false alibi and to rewrite it in
her own words.
At the conclusion of the evidence, the jury convicted
Chelsea of capital murder in less than three hours.
At the punishment stage, the State sought
the death penalty. The evidence included a letter from
Chelsea to Andrew written the day after they had shot at
the family’s vehicle in Burleson. The letter exposed
Chelsea’s manipulation of Andrew to believe that his
family did not love or trust him and that she was the
only person on whom he could rely. Based on the brutal,
premeditated murders of the Wamsleys out of greed, as
well as evidence of Chelsea’s manipulation of others and
of the danger she posed to society, the jury took just
over two hours to sentence Chelsea to death.
Andrew’s trial for capital murder is
currently scheduled to begin in the fall of 2005.
Susana, who entered a plea bargain with the State in
exchange for her truthful testimony at trial, is
currently serving a life sentence for murder. Susana
will not be eligible for parole until she serves thirty
years in prison. Charges are pending against Hilario for
his role in conspiring to murder the Wamsleys.
Teacher’s Assistant Convicted of
Sex Assault on Student
David Franklin, a substitute teacher’s assistant at
the Horizons Alternative School, sexually assaulted a
fourteen-year-old girl while her classmates watched. He
then turned out the lights and acted as a lookout while
two other students had sexual contact with the girl. All
of the students present in the classroom during this
shocking crime testified against Franklin at his trial.
“We entrust our schools not only with the education of
our children, but also the safety of our children,” said
prosecutor Steven Jumes. “Franklin exploited that
Franklin was sentenced to two years’ confinement for
having sex with the student and five years’ probation
for allowing the two students to simulate sex with her.
“The jury’s punishment illustrates that no child should
be abandoned by the system,” Jumes said. [TOP]
Drive-by Shooting Results in Life
Sentence for Gang Member
Gang member John Carlos Rios was convicted of
capital murder and sentenced to life in prison for the
drive-by shooting at Rosemont Park that left dead two
innocent eighteen-year-old bystanders and their unborn
child. Rios had returned to the park with a shotgun to
seek revenge against a rival gang member who had beaten
him up earlier in the day. He fired into a crowd of
people wearing the colors of the rival gang. Neither
victim had been involved in the earlier gang dispute.
Rios must serve forty years in prison before becoming
eligible for parole. “The jury’s verdict serves notice
on gang members that gang violence will not be tolerated
in Tarrant County,” said Camille Sparks, who prosecuted
Racially-motivated Shooting Spree
Results in Life Sentence
In November 2002, just weeks after the DC snipers
were apprehended, Billy Thomas and his brother Claude
went on a two-day copycat shooting spree that left three
people dead and one wounded in Fort Worth. “We believe
that these crimes were racially-motivated and patterned
after or in response to the DC snipers,” said prosecutor
In the early morning hours of November 11, 2002, Debra
Harlow, an epileptic who could not drive, was shot in
the chest as she walked home from a convenience store
after playing bingo. An in-store security video showed
Thomas entering the store immediately before Harlow and
leaving seconds after her. A short time later and a few
miles away, Allen Williby, who had suffered brain trauma
at birth and could not drive, was gunned down in front
of a church as he walked to work.
The rampage resumed two days later when a woman escaped
being shot while walking across the MLK Freeway. She
gave the police a description of her assailants’
distinctive truck. Less than an hour later, a cyclist
pushing his bicycle near Cobb Park was shot. The victim
survived and described the same distinctive truck. About
forty-five minutes later, Eric Baker was shot in the
head while walking on Bomar Street.
Within minutes of Baker’s murder, the police stopped
Thomas and his brother for a routine traffic violation.
During the stop, Baker’s body was discovered on the
street a short distance away and a description of the
distinctive suspect truck was broadcast. The officers
realized that the description matched the Thomas’ truck,
and the brothers were arrested.
Police found two shotguns and a significant amount of
live and spent ammunition in the truck cab. Later
forensic testing found Baker’s blood splattered on the
side of the truck and matched the bullets recovered from
the victims to the guns found in the truck. These items
provided the evidence that prosecutors needed to link
the shootings to each other and to identify Thomas as
Thomas was convicted of capital murder for the multiple
homicides. The State waived the death penalty, and
Thomas received an automatic life sentence. He must
serve forty years in prison before becoming eligible for
parole. “We feel that justice has prevailed,” Shaw said. [TOP]
Paramedic Gets 99 Years for
James Thomas worked as a paramedic for various
Tarrant County agencies when he began sexually abusing
his 8-year-old stepdaughter. For about two years, Thomas
showed his young stepdaughter child and adult
pornography and made her copy the acts and poses
Thomas worked at a local hospital when he was arrested.
Over the years, Thomas had often placed himself in close
contact with children. He previously had volunteered at
a children’s asthma camp and had worked at a children’s
A jury convicted Thomas of aggravated sexual
assault of a child and sentenced him to ninety-nine
years in prison for abusing his stepdaughter. “Any time
we can get a sexual offender who has access to children
off the street and out of reach of children is a good
day for law enforcement and for the children of our
community,” said Dixie Bresano, who prosecuted Thomas. [TOP]
50 Years for Leaving Man to Die
Imbedded In Windshield
It was almost the perfect crime—a partially clothed
man’s body was found in a park looking as though he had
been brutally beaten. But he wasn’t. He was obviously
dead, but he didn’t die at that location. His body had
been dumped. The puzzle of Mr. Biggs’ death was not
solved until the police received a tip implicating
Chante Mallard. A search of Mallard’s garage revealed a
car with a broken windshield that still held remnants of
Biggs' blood and hair in the roof lining. Police later
learned that Mallard had consumed a combination of
alcohol, ecstasy and marijuana in the hours before
striking Biggs with her car. She told police that while
he was lodged in her windshield, Biggs could only moan
when she spoke to him. She drove him into her garage and
hid him until he finally died.
Despite being a certified nurse’s assistant since 1995,
Mallard made no effort to treat Biggs’ injuries. She did
not call 911 or her brother who was an emergency medical
technician with the Fort Worth Fire Department and on
duty the night Biggs died in her garage. She instead
chose to call her friends to help her conceal all
evidence of the crime. Greg Biggs bled to death hours
later. The next day Mallard, with the help of some
friends, dumped Biggs’ nearly naked body near some swing
sets in Cobb Park. In the months and weeks that
followed, Mallard dismantled the interior of her car and
burned the seats where Mr. Biggs died.
The trial of the State of Texas versus Chante Mallard
began June 18, 2003. The prosecutors presented numerous
witnesses to establish a rock solid case of murder.
Jurors viewed more than 195 exhibits. Maps of all public
phones, fire stations, and police departments were shown
to illustrate the ease with which Mallard could have
called for help. Mallard was convicted of murder and
tampering with evidence.
Although Mallard invoked her right not to testify during
the guilt – innocence portion of the trial, she did
testify at punishment. She portrayed herself as a
marijuana addicted scared young woman who was sincerely
sorry for her actions the night Mr. Biggs died. However,
thorough preparation and investigation by the
prosecutors, the State was able to show the jury that
Mallard was not so repentant: jurors saw a videotape
showing Mallard one week later out at the same bar,
drinking and enjoying herself, that she had been to the
night she killed Mr. Biggs. Jurors sentenced Mallard to
50 years in the penitentiary for the murder of Greg
Biggs and 10 years in the penitentiary for tampering
with evidence. [TOP]