THE WACO DA STRIKES BACK For two years, McLennan County District Attorney Vic Feazell was the focus of highly publicized investigations by the FBI, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the 1RS, and the Waco Police Department. Feazell was indicted last September on charges of bribery, conspiracy, and mail fraud (“War in Waco,” October 1985).
Before his indictment, Feazell was also the subject of a series of investigative reports aired by WFAA-Channel 8. The reports, filed by reporter Charles Duncan, accused Feazell of taking payoffs in exchange for not prosecuting DWI and drug cases. Throughout, Feazell insisted that the investigation and subsequent indictment against him were in retaliation for his questioning the manner in which the Texas Rangers, an arm of the DPS, had conducted the infamous Henry Lee Lucas investigation. By proving that many of Lucas’s confessions were bogus, Feazell says, he “stepped on the wrong toes.” And, since filing a $34 million libel suit against Channel 8 a year ago, Feazell has publicly claimed that the Dallas station’s reports were tied in with the investigation.
In July, an Austin federal jury found Feazell innocent of all charges after hearing testimony from sixty-five government witnesses. Now, Feazell is ready to strike back. A week after being cleared, Feazell and his Tulsa-based attorney Gary Richardson met in Dallas to discuss plans for pursuing the suit against Channel 8.
“I’ve seen the reports that [Charles] Duncan did, and there’s a great deal of distortion that went on and innuendos made that are not, in our opinion, supported factually,” says Richardson. “We think that it is obvious that Duncan was an arm of the federal government.”
Feazell says the case he and Richardson plan to present will establish a connection between Duncan and the Department of Public Safety. He points out that during the testimony of one of the key witnesses, DPS investigator Sgt. Ron Boyter, it was revealed that Boyter had played tapes of Duncan’s reports for the federal grand jury in Austin in July of 1986.
Channel 8 was the lone representative of the Dallas media community to file regular reports from the six-week-long Feazell trial in Austin. The station also did a lengthy post-trial report from Waco, providing reaction to Feazell’s acquittal. Brad Watson covered the trial, and WFAA was also represented in the courtroom by paralegals who took notes on the proceedings.
Watson, Duncan, and other Channel 8 staffers refused to comment on Richardson’s allegations, as did John McEl-haney, one of the attorneys representing the A.H. Belo Company, which owns Channel 8.
Feazell says that friends of his who followed the reports of the trial on Channel 8 “were under the impression we were going down the tube in a big way. They would be stunned when I told them how well I had felt things had gone in court that day. From what people have told me about what aired on Channel 8, it wasn’t the same trial I sat through.”