Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
A state district judge has dismissed the mortgage fraud case against oil fortune heir Al Hill III because Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins refused to testify.
The criminal fraud charges against Hunt family oil fortune heir Al Hill III have been dismissed after Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins refused to testify in the case Thursday.
Watkins took the stand but refused to answer misconduct allegations by attorneys for Hill.
State District Judge Lena Levario found Watkins in contempt of court but allowed him to leave the room. Watkins refused a second chance to testify, that's when the judge began hearing final arguments on dismissing the case.
Levario says she has not decided what consequences Watkins will face for contempt but she plans to hold a hearing on the issue.
Watkins claimed questions about why his office chose to indict Hunt family heir Al Hill III for mortgage fraud are attorney/client privileged work product and therefore should remain secret.
Attorneys for Hill in the criminal case claim the indictment was a favor to attorney Lisa Blue, a big Watkins campaign contributor.
Blue was an opposing attorney to Hill in a separate dispute over litigation about his family fortune. Through her attorney, Terry Hart, Blue claimed her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and also refused to testify in the criminal case today. She did not appear in court.
Former Watkins top assistant Terri Moore took the stand and discussed the decision process in the Hill case. Moore said numerous people in the DA's office took part in the decision process to investigate and indict Hill.
A state appeals court denied Watkins' request to stay Thursday's hearing in the case of Al Hill III.
Watkins didn't attend a hearing last month, saying he was ill and didn't believe he should have to answer why his office was prosecuting Hill.