WACO, Texas (KWTX) A senior McLennan County prosecutor who was dismissed in March because his boss said he was insubordinate has joined the Waco law firm of former McLennan County District Attorney Vic Feazell, where he will practice criminal defense.
District Attorney Abel Reyna dismissed Aubrey Robertson on March 20 after Reyna said Robertson had been insubordinate in the 19th District Court, where Robertson was assigned as trial chief.
The dismissal came on the same day the man who defeated Reyna for a place on the GOP ballot next November visited with Robertson in his courthouse annex office.
Barry Johnson, who defeated Reyna in the March primary election, told KWTX he had visited with Robertson, but the meeting was about certain paperwork that he needed to complete and Robertson provided the documents to Johnson for execution and there was no conversation of a political nature, at all.
Judge Ralph Strother, 19th District Court judge, told KWTX he was not aware of any insubordination in his courtroom.
Shortly after Robertson left the DA’s office, Feazell got a call from a former Waco police officer and McLennan County sheriff’s deputy.
“Truman Simons called me right after that and said if I wanted to start a criminal defense practice, this guy (Robertson) was who I needed to talk to,” Feazell, now a well-known Waco and Austin lawyer who owns a personal injury law firm, said.
Feazell talked with KWTX by phone Thursday night and said he’d been thinking about beginning a criminal defense practice but just hadn’t done it yet.
“I reached out to him (Robertson) a couple of days later, we talked and he started here about a month ago,” Feazell said.
Robertson, 34, is a well-practiced criminal lawyer with experience at both prosecution and defense tables inside the bar.
“He (Feazell) sent me a text message the day I was fired just out of the blue,” Robertson said Friday in a telephone interview with KWTX.
He said since he was dismissed he had been looking around for opportunities, but he really wanted to stay in Waco.
“I love Waco. No matter where I looked I kept coming back to Waco and the legal community here,” Robertson said.
“That day (the day he was terminated) I bet I got a hundred texts and calls from defense lawyers saying they would help or offering their support and that meant a lot to me,” he said.
“I just cannot say enough about the defense bar in Waco and how supportive and helpful those people are,” Robertson said.
So, when Feazell offered, Robertson joined up
Robertson grew up in Houston and graduated from Humble High School in 2001, then from Baylor University with undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Slavic and Eastern European Studies.
He completed law school at New York Law School in 2008 and after graduation worked with the Legal Aid Society of New York City then later served as a law clerk for the Hon. L.B. Stone of the Supreme Court of New York County, and he interned with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in Houston.
Robertson, who is single, lives with a boxer he says runs the place, but Waco is his home.
“I really think without that great moral support from the defense bar here it would have been a much harder decision to make.
Some local attorneys say there is an uncanny irony about Robertson joining Feazell, who back in 1988, as elected McLennan County District Attorney, was indicted by a federal grand jury and eventually acquitted at trial on a violation of the federal RICO organized crime act.
RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, passed in 1970 and was aimed at undermining organized crime.
Today several detractors have suggested Reyna, as well, is under investigation for a similar issue but federal agencies have not confirmed, nor have they denied, the existence of any investigation targeting Reyna.
But Dallas-area attorneys F. Clinton Broden, Brian Bouffard and David Conrad Beyer all have appeared recently in Waco district courts where in one case a visiting judge refused to hear testimony or to honor subpoenas duces tecum, and in the other the state filed a motion to recuse a local judge who prior to then had enjoyed prosecutors’ support.
All three lawyers, each of whom represents at least one Twin Peaks shootout defendant, have said publicly they believe Reyna is the target of a federal investigation into impropriety in his office.
And over a series of court hearing associated with the Twin Peaks cases, Reyna has successfully avoided having to provide testimony on the issue.
Reyna, for his part, says he is not aware of any federal investigation that involves him and does not believe that members of his staff have participated in the effort to discolor his service.
“If you believe this you’d have to believe that the FBI has been investigating me since 2014 and they’ve never said a word to me,” Reyna said.
He said the whole thing is purely an effort by a disgruntled former employee and a former political opponent to disgrace him.
Bear in mind, none of this is proven up yet, but Broden put the court on notice he plans to subpoena testimony from several individuals ranging from former assistant district attorneys to current ones, former and current DA staff members, at least two FBI agents and one retired Waco police detective.
In a recent article published on KWTX.com, former Reyna First Assistant DA Greg Davis said he had been subpoenaed to testify about his connection to the DA's office by one of the attorneys representing a Twin Peaks Massacre client, but posturing on both defense and prosecution sides has put off that testimony and none of Davis' comments have been heard in open court.
Davis resigned July 31, 2014, the same day long-time Reyna’s administrative assistant Julissa West quit, “because it had become apparent to me that despite my warnings and advice, Reyna had no intention of stopping his practice of giving preferential treatment to his campaign supporters and friends," Davis said of his departure.
“Both me and Michael (Jarrett, who left the same post as 1st Assistant DA on May 1) warned Abel about his cronyism, doing favors for political contributors, and we told him he didn't owe anybody anything except to operate his office properly," Davis said.
Jarrett now works for Texas Farm Bureau.
Though the set of alleged facts in this investigation is different, the whole thing has its parallels to an investigation 32 years ago by both state and federal officers who were intent on bringing down the McLennan County District Attorney.
In early 1985, then Feazell was on a mission to prove that state police had railroaded an East Texas drifter into taking credit for an amazing number of murders all across the country and that Henry Lee Lucas hadn’t committed more than about two.
Two’s bad enough but Texas Rangers would have you believe he’d killed 200, 300, even as many as 600 people over a number of years, helped along by his partner henchman Otis Toole.
“There are similarities between my case and the one Reyna faces,” Feazell said.
“The main difference is who is accusing him and who accused me.”
Testimony during that trial showed some local attorneys accused Feazell of giving special preference in certain driving while intoxicated (DWI) cases in exchange for payoffs.
Feazell had fouled up the Texas Rangers’ investigations into serial killer Henry Lee Lucas’ confessions by convening a special grand jury to investigate the investigators, themselves, intent on proving Lucas’ confessions were a scam perpetrated by the Rangers who provided details of the murders confessed to.
The Rangers didn’t like it and their boss, DPS director James Adams, a former top FBI guy, called in some federal favors.
During the trial agents admitted they’d bugged Feazell courthouse office and his home and he and his wife and child had been the subjects of surveillance during the investigation.
After he was found not guilty, he sued WFAA TV, in Dallas, and the station’s parent company Belo Broadcasting, and was successful in winning what then was the largest libel lawsuit award, $58 million, in U.S. history.
Since then, Feazell has been in private practice.