On Wednesday, a judge ordered the release of an ex-Dallas policeman, Bryan Riser, who had previously been accused of ordering a pair of killings in 2017. This decision by the judge comes after prosecutors said there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed with a capital murder case against him.
Preceding the decision was 3+ hours of testimony by a homicide detective for the Dallas P.D. Afterward Judge Audrey Moorehead denied there was probable cause and ordered Riser’s release.
Riser’s arrest came just last month after his own (now former) department took him into custody on charges related to a murder-for-hire plot.
“Where we stand as a district attorney’s office right now today, we do not feel there’s sufficient probable cause for this case,” said county prosecutor Jason Fine to the judge.
An in-court exchange between Fine and a homicide detective reveals that the case was first discussed by legal authorities in December 2019. At that time prosecutors didn’t think a solid case had been built. In March 2021 that opinion hadn’t changed.
Despite the looming of those potential future issues, Riser was arrested for the unconnected killings of 31-year-old Liza Saenz and 61-year-old Albert Douglas. In August 2019 a man came to police to tell them he’d kidnapped and killed the two victims after being directed to do so by Riser.
Authorities say Riser offered a trio of men payment to kidnap and kill both Saenz and Douglas. Those men were caught and charged with capital murder. Afterward one of the three came forward to implicate Riser.
Prosecutors pinned the collapsed case on the lack of “corroboration of co-defendant statements and accomplice testimony.” The investigation remains open.
Toby Shook, the lawyer for the ex-officer, claims that his client is innocent.
Previously, Shook said that Riser had known Emmanuel Kilpatrick, one of the men charged with killing Saenz, and that the two had reconnected in 2017 after initially knowing one another since high school. Kilpatrick is now serving a life sentence for killing a father and son. Shook further claims that Kilpatrick is lying and trying “to gain an advantage” by implicating a cop.
Detectives had been interested in Riser’s involvement in the crimes since 2017, though he wasn’t deemed a “suspect” until two years later. A detective also said that Saenz and Riser’s father were living together, and that she had been a witness to a separate murder prior to her death.
Shook said it was true that Saenz and Riser’s dad lived together, but that his client and her had no relationship. He also says his client didn’t know Douglas.
Following Riser’s arrest, criticism arose in the form of people wondering why he was still serving as a cop while under investigation. A City Council committee was formed by the mayor to probe that.