Decision on ongoing city official cases not expected before year's end

Dec. 14, 2010 at 6:14 a.m.

The fate of the cases against Victoria Police Lt. Ralph Buentello and former city attorney David Atmar Smith will not be decided before the year's end.

Previously, Terry McDonald, the San Antonio attorney who was named special prosecutor in the cases in July, said he hoped to have an answer regarding the cases before 2011.

After a visit to Victoria on Tuesday, however, McDonald said it would take a little longer than previously anticipated to make his decision.

While in Victoria, McDonald said he spent time reviewing the amended indictments of the two men as well as the grand jury testimony.

"Reading the grand jury testimony is one thing, but seeing how it affected (District Attorney Steve Tyler's) investigation is another," said McDonald.

Tyler indicted Police Chief Bruce Ure, Mayor Will Armstrong and the two officials on perjury charges stemming from the 2008 sexual abuse investigation of former Victoria County Sheriff Michael Ratcliff.

The cases against Armstrong and Ure were dismissed.

Ure's case was dismissed on May 11, leaving charges against Buentello and Smith as pending.

McDonald said he also spent part of his Victoria trip speaking with Tyler to get his perspective on the situation.

The special prosecutor said he requested Tyler provide him with a summary report of how Smith and Buentello's actions affected his investigation.

But, McDonald said Tyler was working on a capital murder case that would not be finished before January, and he needed time to prepare the report.

McDonald said he needs to see Tyler's report before he can make a final decision.

Attorney Randy Schaffer, who represents Smith, shared his thoughts on the ongoing case.

"We were hopeful he would make a decision and dismiss the case before the holidays, but that's not going to happen," said Schaffer. "It's just important that he makes the right decision."



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