A Dallas judge on Wednesday ordered the release of a former police officer who was charged with two counts of capital murder last month, ruling that there was not enough evidence to prosecute the ex-cop in connection with two separate 2017 killings.
Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Audrey Moorehead announced the decision in a Wednesday morning hearing, siding with prosecutors who argued there was not sufficient probable cause to bring a case against Bryan Riser, according to The Associated Press.
Riser, a 13-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, was fired and charged by his colleagues last month over two murder-for-hire killings that police said were unrelated to his work.
Dallas Police Chief Eric Garcia said at the time that information received from a witness implicated Riser in the 2017 killings of a woman named Lisa Saenz, who was found with multiple gunshot wounds, and a man named Albert Douglas, who was reported missing in February 2017 and was never found.
Authorities accused Riser, 37, of hiring three men — Kevin Kidd, Emmanuel Kilpatrick and Jermon Simmons — to kill the two people.
Kilpatrick is currently serving a life sentence for the killings of a father and son, according to the AP.
However, Dallas County prosecutor Jason Fine told the judge during Wednesday’s hearing, “Where we stand as a district attorney’s office right now today, we do not feel there’s sufficient probable cause” for the case against Riser.
“We have an obligation — under the U.S. Constitution, under the Texas Constitution, under the Code of Criminal Procedure, under our duty as prosecutors — to see that justice is done,” Fine added Wednesday, according to local NBC affiliate KXAS-TV.
“If we get to a point in any case — no matter who the defendant is, no matter who the witnesses are — that we feel there is insufficient probable cause, we have to alert the defense and alert the court,” the prosecutor added. “We have to do something. We can’t just sit by.”
Riser’s defense attorney, Toby Shook, had argued that Kilpatrick, who previously knew Riser from high school, had “all the reason in the world to lie and try to gain an advantage by trying to implicate a police officer.”
The Dallas Morning News reported that Riser let out an audible sigh of relief Wednesday when Moorehead announced that the charges would be dropped.
The AP reported that the Dallas County sheriff's office would release Riser upon receiving paperwork from the court.