Last week, we had the distinct honor to announce an appropriation of $500,000 to reimburse Erath County for expenses related to the prosecution of Eddie Ray Routh in the murders of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield.
This was the result of a long and carefully planned team effort. While it is no consolation for the tragedy this community has endured, we hope that it can be recognized as a victory for justice.
Unfortunately, Mr. Brent Graves, who recently declared his intent to oppose Rep. J.D. Sheffield in the March 2016 Republican Primary election, responded with a politically motivated press release that misled the public with false information about this appropriation. This was printed Friday (5/29) in the Empire-Tribune’s opinion section.
Because of the great importance of this appropriation for Erath County, we want to set the record straight and explain the facts surrounding the $500,000 Routh trial reimbursement.
Shortly after the tragic Kyle and Littlefield murders, our offices began working with the Erath County District Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Texas Attorney General to obtain prosecutorial support. Through our collective efforts, we were able to secure a state prosecutor, paid for entirely by the Attorney General, to assist the District Attorney in the Routh prosecution.
The Routh trial was an extraordinary event that incurred numerous costs over and above a typical prosecution and we did not believe that Erath County should have to shoulder this burden alone.
In a letter dated Feb. 10, 2015, we jointly wrote to Gov. Abbott to request state funds from a program administered by the governor’s office. Because this program has only about $1 million at its disposal for all 254 Texas counties, we also sought to add a special state budget appropriation for Erath County.
We worked with House Appropriations Chairman John Otto and Senate Finance Chairwoman Jane Nelson to determine that the best way to secure these funds would be during “Conference Committee,” when the House and Senate versions of a bill are reconciled.
At our request, District Judge Jason Cashon provided the costs incurred by Erath County in the Routh trial above and beyond a typical murder trial in a letter to Rep. Sheffield dated March 31, 2015. This amount totaled approximately $500,000. The following day, Rep. Sheffield submitted an amendment to House Bill 2 to appropriate $500,000 to Erath County to cover these expenses. With our strong support, Sen. Jane Nelson personally oversaw its inclusion in the bill that will now become law.
Securing the $500,000 state reimbursement to Erath County was a team effort. We are honored to have been a part of that team, alongside Sen. Nelson, Rep. Otto, District Attorney Nash, County Judge Thompson, Governor Abbott, and many others in Erath County and across the State of Texas who support the fight for justice.