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Grand Jury Reverses Indictment Against Jailers

A Galveston, Texas, grand jury decided to take back an indictment it had issued against four Galveston County sheriff's deputies after three of the four agreed to surrender their peace-officer licenses. The reversal left some law experts scratching their heads.

"I've never heard of that before," said University of Houston law professor Bob Schuwerk.

The four jailers, William Joe Brown, Robert Deem, Woodrow Naborne and John Tregre, faced various charges of official oppression, aggravated perjury and tampering with evidence in the reported July, 1998, beating of jail detainee Johnny Lands.

Assistant District Attorney Wayne Mallia said he did not direct the grand jury to reverse its earlier indictment.

"We weren't doing any favors for anyone," Mallia said. "I presented the grand jury its options, without favoring one, and it decided to accept the surrender of the licenses."

After the indictment was first handed down, Brown, Deem and Naborne offered to permanently surrender their licenses. Tegre, who was the only one of the four to testify about jailers falsifying statements about the July beating, did not offer to surrender his license. Tregre was the one who originally reported the incident to sheriff's deputy investigators.

"He effectively blew the whistle on himself," Sheriff Joe Max Taylor said of Tregre, who was reinstated and placed back on active duty in the jail after the indictments were withdrawn.

Galveston Daily News

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