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Prosecutors Drop 1 Of 13 Felony Charges Against Rep. Dawwna Dukes

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune
State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, has a laugh with state Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, during debate on the budget in April.

Prosecutors dropped one of their felony charges against state Rep. Dawnna Dukes on Wednesday, acknowledging that their case against the Austin Democrat has weakened since a grand jury indicted her on that and 12 other felony counts earlier this year.

The Travis County district attorney’s office wrote Wednesday that evidence they had used — gathered from Dukes’ cell phone — was incorrect. Originally, prosecutors claimed Dukes’ cell phone data showed she was out of Austin on a day when she received payment for working at the Capitol. But, according to Wednesday’s filing, a crime analyst from the Department of Public Safety, in at least one instance, mixed up the data she extracted from Dukes’ phone, using information from the wrong calendar date.

That means prosecutors will abandon one felony charge alleging Dukes had falsified travel information to collect a state official’s daily pay on a day when she did not work at the Capitol. The Travis County District Attorney’s office has until Oct. 30 to say whether it will continue to pursue the other 12 felony charges.

“When analyzing the correct data ... [the Department of Public Safety] stated Ms. Dukes’ cell phone indicated activity near downtown Austin, Texas, which puts her within range of the Capitol building,” prosecutors wrote.

A lawyer for Dukes praised the decision.

“The prosecution made the right decision by dropping this charge,” Shaun Clarke, the attorney, said in an email. “Now they need to drop the twelve remaining charges.”


From The Texas Tribune

Edgar Walters is a reporter with the Texas Tribune.
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