Capital murder cases cost Victoria County
By BY MELISSA CROWE - MCROWE@VICAD.COM
April 7, 2014 at 4:03 p.m.
Updated April 6, 2014 at 11:07 p.m.
Capital murder cases are racking up fees for Victoria County court-appointed attorneys.
The county has spent $194,617 on indigent representation for the first three months of the year, an increase of $5,548 over the same three-month time period last year.
County Judge Don Pozzi said the rising costs "continue to drive us crazy."
Although the costs are not "decreasing drastically," he said the savings is realized in a reduction of additional costs totaling $111,265 they would have otherwise spent housing inmates for whom the county was able to write bonds.
"It's kind of a double-edged sword," he said. "You're realizing a savings of additional costs on the other end."
Coordinator Nora Kucera, who gave the presentation Monday, said capital murder cases are contributing to the increase.
A capital murder case that pleaded out in March cost $133,927 in court-appointed attorney costs, Kucera said.
The court agreed they want to revisit the capital offenders program.
Despite turning away 20 percent of applications for court-appointed attorneys, Kucera said she expects attorney costs to continue increasing.
Clarification: The total cost of the Victoria County capital murder case that pleaded out in March included attorneys fees expert witnesses, investigative fees and other expenses. The combined total ins reported under Indigent Defense Cost as outlined in the Texas Fair Defense Act. These points were not clear in the story.