Cold Case and Fugitive Apprehensions News from the District
Volume 2 Issue 2
actively searching for capital murder
them and aiding other defendants either fled
and arrest on
law enforcement from justice or had never
November 3, 2011 of Inside this issue:
agencies with support been arrested. Then DA
Silvestre Cortez Romero,
and information. For Investigator Chuck
wanted for the 1990
years, fugitives accused Lowery searches public
murder of Nivar Romero, ADA Townsend Honored 2
of violent crimes were databases, confirming
marked the fifth arrest in
not actively sought by and entering additional Kleindienst: 100 Club 3
six weeks for the Harris
the office; prosecutors information, and ‘Officer of the Year’
relied solely on law scrutinizing records to
Attorney’s Office Cold DAO Honored for Work 4
enforcement to locate locate the fugitives. on Cold Cases and
Case Fugitive Fugitive Apprehension
and arrest fugitive Approximately 45 cases
felons. have been resolved since
Section an initiative Record numbers of 5
the section was formed, interns for the DAO
implemented by DA
The CCFA Section’s including more than 20
Lykos when she took Celebrate Crime Free
primary focus is on defendants arrested and 6
office in January 2009. Holidays
murder cases—some returned to Harris
dating back to the 1970s. County on murder and FCLD: Assisting Victims 8
The section’s goal is to and the community
A prosecutor gathers, capital murder warrants.
capture criminals who
collects, and reviews files
have avoided justice by (Continued on page 4…)
in which murder and
monitoring software to highlight Computer Cop is internet
Two New Initiatives
Crime Prevention Month. monitoring software designed to
Launched for Crime protect young people from cyber
The District Attorney’s Most predators. It arms parents with a
Prevention Month Wanted list is posted on the tool to monitor potentially
district attorney’s office website dangerous Internet activity.
I n October Harris County
District Attorney Pat Lykos
announced the office’s launch of
to alert the public to dangerous
felons and ask them to contact
authorities with any information
Parents can use the software to
monitor images, emails, instant
messages and chats. It also has a
the District Attorney’s Most that may assist in tracking down function where parents can
Wanted list and the release of fugitives and bring them to search for specific key words they
Computer Cop internet justice. (Continued on page 2 …)
News from the District Attorney’s Office
sentence be upheld. Officer Tim Abernethy was
ADA Townsend Townsend was presented the murdered during a foot
Honored for award by Abernethy’s wife, pursuit when Landor fled
Stephanie. following a traffic stop. Officer
Appellate Work Abernethy chased him into an
on Cop Killer Case “I am shocked and flattered to apartment complex, and then
be honored by HPOU,” said Landor hid behind a gate
Townsend. “When defending before shooting Abernethy in
arris County Assistant
cases on appeal, you aren’t the the torso and in the head.
‘face’ of the trial case. Most Officer Abernethy was an 11-
Michelle Townsend was
appellate work is behind the year HPD veteran.
honored recently by the
scenes. It was an honor to
Houston Police Officers’
have the appeal assigned to me Townsend has been with the
Union for her work
and an even greater honor to Harris County District
representing the state of Texas
argue on behalf of Officer Attorney’s Office for six years.
during the appeal of Mabry
Abernethy and the state of Before working in the
Landor III. Landor was
Texas. I am overwhelmed to Appellate Division she worked
sentenced to death in 2010 for
be recognized for my work.” in the Family Criminal Law
the brutal murder of Houston
Division of the Trial Bureau, as
Police Officer Timothy Townsend wrote a legal brief Section Chief of the
Abernethy. The award and argued the case in front of Misdemeanor Division and as
recognized her outstanding the Texas Court of Criminal a felony court prosecutor.
work before the Texas Court Appeals in January. The court
of Criminal Appeals, asking affirmed the conviction and
that the conviction and death sentence this summer.
(Continued from page 1 … Two New criminals, pedophiles and devious
Initiatives) con artists,” said District Attorney
Pat Lykos. “Whether you are
may be concerned about. The
online or on-the-loose we will get
software is easy to install and it’s
free from the district attorney’s
office. To view the District Attorney’s
Most Wanted go to
“These projects enlist cyber
technology, the community and
click on the Most Wanted tab. To
law enforcement in a unified contact the district attorney’s
request copies of Computer Cop
strategy to guard against child office at (713) 755-5800.
for your organization or group,
predators and to capture violent
Volume 2 Issue 2 Page 3
all the agencies – county, state, obstacles to make the unusual
Harris County federal and foreign – working search successful.
District Attorney’s together to bring this
‘monster’ to justice. But for Upon return, State District
Office Investigator John’s efforts, this guy might Judge Kevin Fine sentenced
John Kleindienst still be running from the law.” Castleberry to the maximum of
two life sentences and two 20-
Named “Officer of “It is a true honor to be year prison terms, all to be
the Year” by The 100 recognized by The 100 Club, served consecutively for the
one of the most respected law sexual assaults of under-aged
Club enforcement support groups. I girls. Testimony showed he
am very proud of what we had performed sexual acts on
Commended for efforts in were able to accomplish in at least seven girls, some of
tracking down a serial child bringing Castleberry back to them relatives and family
predator Harris County to face his fate,” friends as young as five, in
said Kleindienst. “Without assaults spanning a period of
E arlier this year Harris help from several law more than 10 years.
County District enforcement agencies, we
couldn’t have done it. I am The District Attorney’s Office
Attorney’s Office Investigator
very proud to be recognized would like to thank the
John Kleindienst was named
for this extraordinary team following agencies for their
“Officer of the Year” by The
effort.” steadfast cooperation in
100 Club for his leadership and
bringing Castleberry to justice:
coordination of a major
The search for Castleberry Harris County Sheriff’s Office,
manhunt resulting in the
began in Kuwait and US Marshal’s Office, US
capture of fugitive Darren Ray
continued through Armenia Department of Defense, US
Castleberry, a serial child
and Uzbekistan before he was Department of State, the Los
arrested in Thailand. Angeles County District
Four years ago, authorities Castleberry was working as a Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s
feared that Castleberry may foreign contactor in Kuwait Office, the Texas Governor’s
have escaped responsibility for when he learned of the Harris Office and the governments of
his crimes. Harris County County warrants for his arrest Kuwait and Thailand.
District Attorney Patricia in 2006. He vanished as a
fugitive, with Kleindienst DA Investigator Kleindienst
Lykos credits the tenacity and
working doggedly in has served the Harris County
skill of Investigator
coordination with diplomats District Attorney’s office for 10
Kleindienst with the successful
and diverse international years. He continues to track
effort. “If you saw this on a
agencies to pick up the trail, down fugitives wanted for
television program, you just
half a world away. He, and the major crimes against Harris
would not believe it,” District
agencies with which he County.
Attorney Lykos said. “But it is
truly incredible to have seen coordinated, confronted —
and overcame — enormous
Page 4 News from the District Attorney’s Office
performance awards for their outstanding efforts in
DA’s Office Honored for Work on investigating, locating and prosecuting cold case
Cold Cases fugitives. DA Investigator Chuck Lowery and
Extradition Administrator Kim Bryant received
and Fugitive Apprehension individual special recognition awards.
“Judge Lykos and her Cold Case Section are an
invaluable part of the Gulf Coast Violent Offender
Fugitive Task Force,” said U.S. Marshal Elizabeth
Saenz. “The members of her team will never stop,
never rest until justice is served. The goal is to
successfully track down and arrest the most serious
offenders. Through our partnership with the
district attorney’s office we are sending a message to
violent fugitives: you can run, but you can’t hide.”
Other members of the Gulf Coast Violent Offender
Fugitive Task Force include Harris County Sheriff’s
DA Lykos, Elizabeth Saenz, Kim Bryant, Chuck Lowery
Office, Houston Police Department, Precinct 4
Constable’s Office, Crime Stoppers, Galveston
County Sheriff’s Office, Montgomery County
District Attorney Patricia Lykos and her office’s
Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Criminal
Cold Case Fugitive Apprehension Section were
Justice Office of the Inspector General, and Texas
recently honored by the U.S. Marshal’s Gulf Coast
Department of Public Safety. ■
Violent Offender Fugitive Task Force with
(Continued from page 1 … CCFA) Plains, Montana with assistance wanted for a 1981 stabbing murder,
from the U.S. Marshals Office. and Reginald Sharp wanted for a
Lykos credits the hard work of Investigator Lowery located 1984 capital murder in which an
investigator Lowery and Gonzales in Montana and directed auto parts store employee was
Extradition Administrator Kim US Marshals to his whereabouts to robbed and murdered.
Bryant for the successful return of make the arrest. Gonzales had
the five dangerous felons. been living under another name The CCFA Section is a member of
for several years. the Gulf Coast Violent Offender
Silvestre Cortez Romero had been Fugitive Task Force and
running from the law for almost 22 Epifaneo Jaimes Arroyo, a fugitive coordinates with various law
years when he was arrested by in a 1980 murder, was arrested in enforcement agencies across the
U.S. Marshalls. He is currently in Gwinnett County, Georgia on country. The District Attorney
custody in California awaiting October 20. He successfully eluded congratulates members of the US
extradition to Harris County. authorities for over three decades Marshals Office and officers from
before being tracked down by the Houston Police Department
Lowery and Bryant also Lowery and Bryant. who assisted in the fugitives’
coordinated the arrest of David arrests and capture. ■
Gonzales, a fugitive on the lam for In September, the CCFA Section
murder for nearly 30 years, in apprehended Alfredo Gomez,
Volume 2 Issue 2 Page 5
experience in a big city DA’s came through the program.”
Record numbers of office that sets standards for
other offices across the country.” Interns are required to work 40
interns for the DAO hours per week during the
This year the office’s recruitment Summer intern program and 10
T he Harris County District
Attorney’s Office once again
had a record number of
outreach expanded to all Texas
law schools and several Louisiana
law schools. The HCDAO also
hours per week in the Fall
program. While preference is
given to current law students,
participants in the office’s participates in active minority some participants are graduated
internship program—more than recruitment through a students awaiting bar results and
100 students in each of the partnership with the Houston Bar others are lawyers who are
Summer and Fall semesters. Association and Milligan attends looking to make a career change
career fairs in cities such as Dallas into the field of prosecuting
“Participants are attracted to the to meet with out of state cases. Applicants come from
program to gain a variety of applicants. every grade level of law school
perspectives, try new divisions with broad diversity in their
and enhance their chances of Milligan personally interviews all undergraduate degrees.
employment after law school,” applicants and applauds District
said Program Coordinator Jessica Attorney Lykos for making the Interns serve the office as unpaid
Milligan, an Assistant District program a priority. “This volunteers assisting prosecutors,
Attorney in the General Litigation administration sees how investigators and staff in more
Division. She also said applicants important the program is and than 27 DAO sections and
are attracted to the office “to gain dedicates resources so it can be divisions. ■
successful. Many current ADA’s
multiple prescriptions for the Cockfighting. Attending a
New Offenses in 2011 same drug from different cockfight is a Class C
doctors, often called “doctor misdemeanor for the first
Discarding burning materials or shopping.” The penalty ranges offense; a Class A misdemeanor
litter onto a road or highway. from a Class A misdemeanor to a for any subsequent attending;
This applies to burning 2nd degree Felony. Health & causing a cockfight or
cigarettes and matches where a Safety Code § 481.129(a-1). participating in the earnings of
fire is started and is very a cockfight is a State Jail Felony.
Violation of a protective order
important in this period of Penal Code § 42.105.
or bond condition by harming,
drought in Texas. Penalty is up
threatening, or interfering with Erecting an off-premise sign on
to 30 days in jail and/or a fine
the care, custody or control of a a rural road without a license.
up to $500. Health & Safety
pet, companion animal or The penalty is $500 to $1,000 per
Code § 365.012(a-1).
assistance animal. The penalty day. Transportation Code §
Possession of synthetic is a Class A misdemeanor for 394.0201.
marijuana (K2, Spice, etc.). first offense. Penal Code § 25.07
Using, installing, operating,
Penalty depends on the amount, (a)(5).
ranging from a Class B buying or selling a radar
Using or claiming to hold a interference device. This is a
misdemeanor to Life in prison.
fraudulent military record. The Class C misdemeanor.
Health & Safety Code § 481.1161.
offense is a Class C
Transportation Code § 547.616.
Obtaining a controlled substance misdemeanor. Penal Code §
when it is not medically 32.54. This is not an exhaustive list of all
necessary, including obtaining
the new laws passed in 2011.
News from the District Attorney’s Office
Celebrate Crime-Free Holidays — Here’s How:
Too many sad court cases confirm the obvious from years past: crooks won’t be taking a break
during the upcoming holidays. To the contrary, this approaching season of thanksgiving, fun
and family celebration is also a peak period for criminal activity.
The District Attorney’s Office has specialty divisions and sections — Identity Theft, Consumer
Protection, Check Fraud, Vehicular Crimes, Victims’ Rights, Crimes Against Children and Child
Exploitation, to name a few — that will be on full alert to assist you with investigations and
However, crime prevention is always the top priority for our community. Here are some of the
best ways to avoid having your holiday enjoyment ruined by becoming the victim of a crime:
Foremost, use common sense and stay aware. This will be another season of shopping malls
and main traffic arteries surging to capacity and beyond. Ordinary safety and caution can be
overwhelmed by the added crowds, pressures and distractions of the holidays. Careless missteps
make prime targets for criminals.
If possible, bring along a friend or relative rather than shopping alone.
Daytime shopping is best, but always stay aware of your surroundings for suspicious people.
After dark, park only in lots that have good lighting and security. Park closer to the stores
and try to park near a light post so you are near a visible, well-lit area.
Don’t carry purses or wallets if you don’t absolutely need them. Keep them secure if you do
Avoid carrying large amounts of cash, and keep what you do take in your front pocket.
In fitting rooms or dressing rooms, don’t leave your billfold, purse or handbag in any area
that is accessible to others.
If using a credit card, swipe it yourself. If salespeople say they need to enter it at another
checkout point, follow them to that location and keep your card in sight.
Don’t get impatient, and don’t let any pressure from others make you flustered during
transactions. Check your receipts and change and merchandise, and make sure you leave
with all your belongings.
In online shopping, deal with established, reputable companies. If sale offers from unknown
vendor sites seem unrealistically cheap, they could be come-ons to steal your credit-card and
Volume 2 Issue 2 Page 7
(Continued from previous page)
Only submit transaction information through protected, private links to the Internet. Don’t
do it through the wireless communications or related links now offered in many commercial
establishments or in common public areas.
Only use ATM locations that are well lit and visible, or in secure places such as bank lobbies,
where the likelihood of tampering will be lower.
Have your ATM card and any additional documents (deposit slips, for example) accessible
and ready for the transaction.
Avoid any ATM with suspicious characters or activities. Don’t engage in talk with strangers
or accept any offers of help. If those persist, cancel the transaction and leave.
Obscure the keypad with one hand while you are entering your PIN, to reduce the chances
of it being detected by others nearby, or by hidden cameras.
Don’t linger around after the transaction, and don’t display or count your cash there. That
can be done later, in safer areas.
Always be sure to have your key or key fob out and accessible to get into your vehicle
quickly. Be aware of your surroundings and any other people near you in the parking lot.
Don’t keep gifts, packages or other valuables in your vehicle. If you have to travel with them,
put them in the trunk or hide them from view.
Allow extra travel time to reach your destination without speeding or reckless driving.
Remember to expect heavier traffic and reduced parking availability during the holidays.
If you go to parties or events that may involve alcohol, make smart, safe choices about
transportation. Drink responsibly, or consider a designated driver, or cab, or other means of
getting there and back safely. The District Attorney’s No Refusal program is deployed every
weekend, as well as during many holiday periods to enforce DWI laws and get intoxicated
drivers off the streets.
The falling rates for both violent and property offenses show that Harris County residents are
more aware and alert than ever in preventing crime and helping to protect our community. By
taking those same basic precautions, we can stay safe and still fully enjoy and appreciate the
blessings of the holiday season. ■
Upon taking the oath of office in 2009, I pledged to restore public trust and
confidence in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. The dedicated
employees of the HCDAO have spent three years honoring that commitment.
We have worked hard to build a culture of integrity and excellence, while
vigorously prosecuting the guilty and protecting crime victims.
We’ve launched new initiatives, had our colleagues honored for their hard
work and seen more than 540,000 cases filed in the last year. We have
Patricia R. Lykos created diversion programs for non-violent first offender juveniles and a
Harris County project to reduce DWI recidivism. We’ve also added several new sections to
District Attorney the office to address specific crimes and worked with the Texas Legislature to
promote the passage of new laws to further protect the people of our county.
Harris County lifted a hiring freeze that had been in effect since 2009, allowing
us to hire more prosecutors to continue the pursuit of justice and ensure the
security of Harris County. We have the best job in the world--upholding the
1201 Franklin Street, Suite 600 law for the benefit of the people. It is a profound responsibility, an honor and a
Houston, TX 77002 privilege.
www.harriscountyda.com We never forget that we are trusted by the people of Harris County with the
responsibility of protecting our county from criminals. We respect the rule of
law and strive to always do the right thing.
To find out more about what the office is doing for Harris County, please visit
our website www.harriscountyda.com .
FCLD: Assisting victims and the community
T he Family Criminal Law cooperation with the Houston Police Humble send staff members to
Division (FCLD) of the Harris Department. Previously victims had FCLD to provide education and
County District Attorney’s Office is to make separate trips to the direct services to domestic violence
comprised of prosecutors, social Houston Police Department to survivors.
service staff, police officers and initiate criminal investigations
Community services provided by
support staff. Their primary focus is against their abusers, and to the
FCLD can include assistance from
to increase victim safety by Criminal Justice Center to obtain the
police and prosecutors in filing
prosecuting domestic violence protective orders. Since 2009, the
Houston Police Department has charges and gaining legal protection
criminal cases, filing protective through the orders, crisis counseling
orders and providing crisis and assigned a family violence sergeant
and more. FCLD also works closely
supportive counseling to victims. to work out of the FCLD offices. The
sergeant files criminal cases, assists with social service agencies for
Stopping the cycle of violence is a referrals for housing, job training,
prosecutors with obtaining evidence
priority of the section. FCLD divorce and custody, long-term
for trials and participates in
provides domestic violence training numerous trainings. counseling and other services.
and education to nearly 2,000 FCLD social service staff provided
people a year in the community In addition to a continued
services to more than 6,000 people
including police officers, judges, partnership with the Houston Police
last year. The staffs’ time is
prosecutors, nurses, social workers, Department, FCLD collaborated
dedicated to protective order
advocates, students and citizens to with the Harris County Domestic
Violence Coordinating Council to interviews (50 percent of the time
raise awareness of domestic devoted to complainants), criminal
violence. establish the Harris County Family
case interviews (28 percent),
Justice Center — a one-stop shop for
The section has also made strides in domestic violence crisis services criminal case evaluations with no
streamlining services for family interview (11 percent) and safety
where social service community
violence victims by accepting planning/other types of interviews
agencies like Houston Area
applications for protective orders at Women’s Center, The Bridge in (11 percent).
the FCLD courthouse offices in Pasadena and Family Time in