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Texas

Texas Legislature: Proposed Bill Aims to Reduce Waiting Times for Murder Cases in Texas

The Texas law already requires domestic violence cases to take precedence, but if passed, the new bill would also move murder and capital murder cases to the forefront.

AUSTIN, Texas. A new bill proposed in Austin would reduce waiting times for murder cases by giving them priority in court.

The Texas law already requires domestic violence cases to take precedence, but if passed, the new bill would also move murder and capital murder cases to the forefront.

“It was hell,” said Anna Machado.

Her daughter, Diamond Alvarez, 16, was shot 22 times while walking her dog in January 2022. Investigators charged her boyfriend Frank DeLeon with the murder.

He posted bail but was later re-arrested for allegedly violating it. He was then given bail again.

“What’s the point of going to court if it’s a reset, after a reset, after a reset,” Machado said.

More than a year has passed since her daughter’s death, and she is still awaiting trial.

“Of all our criminal justice problems, this is the most serious,” said Texas Senator John Whitmire.

Whitmire, who chairs the Criminal Justice Committee and is a candidate for mayor of Houston, was the one who introduced Bill 402 to the Senate. The bill would require judges to prioritize murder and capital murder cases in their courtrooms.

Whitmire said it took some cases three to five years to get through the system.

“It’s not fair to the victim’s family, it’s not fair to the accused, and it’s certainly not fair to society, especially if you’re on bail,” Whitmire said.

According to Whitmire, there are 1,841 murder or capital murder cases in Texas. 885 defendants are still in prison, and 956 are at large. Of these 956 wanted persons, 631 are found.

“In my opinion, this is why we are seeing repeated acts of violence in Houston and Harris County,” Whitmire said.

For Machado, something has long been needed to speed up the system in every judge’s court.

“This should have been done before, why now? Because COVID? That’s the excuse I’m getting, it shouldn’t be an excuse that you’re still getting paid because of COVID, she said. “You are still sitting there, you are still wearing that dress.”

The next court hearing in the case of Diamond Alvarez will take place no earlier than March. If passed, the bill will enter into force in September.

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