A deputy who had a relationship with the mistress of Deputy Darren Goforth has been terminated, according to Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman. Now, his attorney is addressing the public.
The deputy, identified as Marc De Leon, had a relationship with the woman before Goforth was allegedly shot and killed by Shannon Miles in 2015.
The deputy was recently terminated after it was discovered he was having the relationship with the woman while on the job. The termination has no connection to the Goforth death investigation.
"The leader of any organization would highly embarrassed for the conduct of an officer that would lead up to termination due to some kind of relationship," Sheriff Ron Hickman told KPRC 2 News.
For the second time, Sheriff Ron Hickman is having to address the firing of an employee over a relationship with a woman who was there the night Goforth was killed. As Channel 2 investigates reported, this woman was also in a relationship with Goforth.
Hickman said he does not believe his department has a pervasive problem, but just last week the Sheriff's Office did have to draft a formal policy prohibiting deputies from having relationships with people connected to criminal cases. Hickman admits the policy was a direct result of these latest debacles.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office released a statement about De Leon's termination that read in part: "The ongoing investigation by our Internal Affairs Division concluded that Deputy Deleon was untruthful during the course of their investigation. Additional information will be made available following the Deputy's right to appeal process."
KPRC 2 News interviewed De Leon the week after Goforth's death. He described himself as good friends with the slain deputy.
"It's overwhelming," De Leon said at the time. "He was my voice of reason whenever something would frustrate me and I would run it by him.”
De Leon's attorney, Joshua Normand, released a statement that read: Mr. De Leon has no comment as to the facts surrounding his separation of employment from the Harris County Sheriff's Office, at this time, as he will avail himself of the appeal process under Harris County Civil Service Rules."
"In the 34 years that I've been a criminal defense attorney, in three decades that I’ve been a legal analyst, I can't remember any case that comes within an area code of what's happened in this case. Once again, you are looking at a case that many people thought was a slow plea of guilty and a death sentence, and now has morphed into a case that seems somewhat more of a reality show," KPRC 2 legal analyst Brian Wice said.
An investigator with the Harris County Sheriff's Office was also terminated for having a relationship with the woman during the murder investigation. A panel decided to terminate Sgt. Craig Clopton after he admitted having "consensual sexual conduct" with the woman during his murder investigation.
Hickman released a statement at the time that read, in part," Sgt. Clopton's actions were unethical and inexcusable. I remain committed to the first tenet of the Sheriff's Office Core Values: to merit and maintain the public's trust."
Wice said questions could be raised in the case about the integrity and the credibility of the witness and also of Clopton.
After the encounters with the mistress came to light, lawyers for Miles requested the District Attorney's Office release records from Goforth's cell phone. Miles' defense team previously spoke publicly, questioning whether Goforth was on duty at the time he was killed or was instead conducting private business.
The mistress told investigators she was with Goforth the night he was gunned down.
A court document filed by prosecutors -- known as a Brady Disclosure -- revealed Goforth and the woman had been in the relationship for more than 15 months at the time he was killed.
"A Brady notice requires the prosecution to turn over to the defense any evidence that is not only helpful to the defense," Wice said. "But that also undermines the prosecution's case."
Sources also told Channel 2 that it was the Harris County Sheriff's Office that originally informed the District Attorney's Office about the relationship late Sept. 9. The document was filed the next day.
Wice said prosecutors were legally obligated to reveal the information to the attorneys of the man accused of killing Goforth.
"The Harris County District Attorney's Office recognized that if there's doubt at all about what evidence is in Brady, you turn it over," Wice said.
Goforth was killed on Aug. 28 at a gas station in the 16000 block of West Road.
He had just finished pumping gas into his patrol car, then went inside the store. When the unsuspecting deputy returned to his vehicle, Miles allegedly walked up to him and began shooting.
District Attorney Devon Anderson said Miles emptied his gun as he shot Goforth multiple times.
"The gun holds 14 in its magazine, and one in the chamber. Fifteen shell casings, you can do the math. He unloaded the entire pistol into Deputy Goforth," Anderson said. "In addition there is a witness who viewed a video lineup with the defendant in it and he positively identified Shannon Miles as the shooter."
Authorities have called Goforth's shooting an unprovoked, execution-style ambush. They said he was murdered simply because he was a law enforcement officer.
Miles' attorneys said their client was mentally unstable. A judge ruled that Miles was incompetent to stand trial on Tuesday. He will be sent to a state mental hospital.
Anthony Osso, the attorney representing Shannon Miles, said he had heard rumors of Deputy DeLeon's involvement with the witness.
"I don't know what causes people to want to be with this witness,I've never met her personally but she seems to have an affect on some people," he said.
Osso said it wasn't immediately clear what, if any, impact the revelation would have on his client's case.