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Bryan Riser, the former Dallas Police officer who was fired last month after being arrested on capital murder charges, breathed a sigh of relief when a judge decided there was not enough evidence to hold him. Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Audrey Moorehead ordered Riser to be released, according to The Dallas Morning News.
“Huge celebration for the family! #RiserStrong #DueProcess,” Riser’s father, Byron, said in a post on Facebook after the trial. The Riser family did not respond to a request for comment.
Dallas Morning News writers Krista Torralva and Cassandra Jaramillo were live reporting on Twitter from inside Ryser’s examining trial. The trial was to determine whether the case should go before a grand jury.
Investigators alleged Riser ordered the kidnapping and killing of two people in 2017, Albert Douglas and Liza Saenz. According to the Dallas Police Department, one of three suspects arrested for the Saenz murder implicated Riser in the crime two years later.
Three suspects were identified and arrested for kidnapping and killing Saenz and Douglas. They were 28-year-old Kevin Kidd, 31-year-old Emmanuel Kilpatrick and 35-year-old Jermon Simmons. They all face capital murder charges.
Throughout two hours of testimony from homicide Detective Esteban Montenegro revealed there were errors in the original probable cause affidavits and that prosecutors didn’t believe there was enough evidence to pursue the case when it was brought up in 2019.
Questioned on the witness stand, Montenegro told Riser’s attorney that cell phone data didn’t place him near the location where the kidnappings and murders occurred, despite this being stated in the original affidavits. DPD uploaded updated versions of the affidavits on Tuesday. The department did not respond for comment on the updates in the Riser case.
The latest documents indicate that Saenz was living with Riser’s father, Byron. They also state that the three suspects in the Saenz and Douglas murders were on the hook for another set of killings. The three suspects, as well as a woman named Joy Tiara Gray, who was dating Simmons, were arrested for the shooting deaths of three other people: Irby Walton Jr., Irby Walton Sr. and Cristobel Zepeda, according to the Morning News.
The latest affidavits say Riser gave investigators information about the Walton murders that he said he’d received from an anonymous tipster. The tipster had called the former cop to give him the information, but Riser told investigators he didn’t recognize the voice he was hearing over the phone. Investigators later determined that Riser was lying about this, according to the affidavits.
Toby Shook, Riser’s attorney, maintains his client had nothing to do with the killings. Shook told the Observer last month that Riser was blindsided by the allegations and the arrest that followed. Riser has denied the allegations from the beginning.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson formed an ad hoc committee shortly after the Riser’s arrest to look into why he remained on active duty while he was considered a person of interest in connection with two murders. Two of the committee members said they had not met yet.
In a statement, the mayor’s office said the committee’s job isn’t to “adjudicate” Riser’s criminal case. “The City Council is responsible for providing oversight of the Dallas Police Department and its civilian leadership at City Hall,” the statement said.
“Our residents deserve to know who knew what, when they knew it, and who made the relevant decisions regarding the former officer’s employment status,” it added. “The committee remains tasked with finding those answers.”
Dallas County prosecutor Jason Fine said there ultimately wasn’t enough evidence, but the investigation is ongoing and that there could be developments in the future.
“I have no idea where this investigation is going, and if there’s sufficient probable cause down the line, we’ll take the case, bring it before a grand jury, we’ll get that indictment and take it to trial just like we do on any other case where we have the evidence,” Fine said.
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