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San Jacinto News-Times - Local News

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Innocence reaffirmed in 2004 murder case
San Jacinto News- Times

COLDSPRING – A father and his son, tried for murder in a San Jacinto County Courtroom and acquitted, have taken polygraph tests to reaffi rm their innocence. Richard Winfrey Sr., 56, was found guilty in 2007 and sentenced to 75 years in state prison when he was acquitted by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals last year for the murder of Oakhurst resident Murray Wayne Burr. His son, Richard Winfrey Jr., was also tried for the murder in 2009; however, he was found not guilty by a county jury who deliberated only 13 minutes. Following the elder Winfrey’s release from prison in 2010, after his unanimous acquittal by the Court of Appeals, the father and son took polygraph examinations conducted by Don Ramsey of Richardson, Texas. “The examinations confi rmed that neither of them was involved in the horrible murder of Mr. Burr, nor do they know who was responsible,” said Shirley Baccus-Lobel, Winfrey’s appeals lawyer. “The decision to give them polygraphs was in order to clear their names, because of course there are still those who suspect they were involved and this is both frustrating and hurtful to them and their family,” Baccus- Lobel said. “The examination results also confi rm that whoever did murder Mr. Burr has gotten away with it, at least so far, and that is a real shame,” she added. While he is now residing at his home outside Coldspring, Winfrey Sr. recently told the San Jacinto News-Times that he will not be able to enjoy his freedom until his daughter, Megan, is acquitted. All three of the Winfrey’s were charged with Burr’s murder. Burr was severely beaten and stabbed 28 times in his home. Megan, who was 16 at the time of the 2004 murder, was found guilty of capital murder in 2008 and is currently serving a sentence in state prison. Scott Pawgan, attorney representing Megan, is now preparing a supplemental brief in the 9th Court of Appeals based on her father’s acquittal. “The evidence in Megan’s case is almost identical to her father’s,” Pawgan recently stated. Forensic evidence from the scene did not implicate Winfrey or his son who was 17 at the time of Burr’s murder. Although no physical evidence tied Winfrey Sr. to the murder, a San Jacinto County jury convicted him of murder based almost entirely on the lineup results of three bloodhounds owned and trained by Keith Pikett, a retired Fort Bend County deputy sheriff. Pikett’s bloodhounds indicated that they smelled Winfrey’s scent on a gauze pad that had been wiped on the victim’s clothes and stored in a plastic bag for three years. The dog scent lineups were unreliable, according to Baccus- Lobel, who quoted scientists and dog experts who found Pikett’s methods to be unethical, unprofessional and biased in favor of law enforcement. From 1993 to 2009, Pikett and his dogs conducted hundreds of scent lineups for about 20 Texas counties, the Texas Rangers, the state attorney general’s office and federal agencies, court documents show. Although Pikett claimed his dogs were nearly infallible in tying suspects to crime scenes, at least four lawsuits are pending that allege Pikett’s dogs erred, including a case involving two men who were charged with a triple murder in Houston before the killer confessed. Ramsey, who conducted the polygraphs on the Winfrey’s, is chairman of the Texas Polygraph Association, was a polygraph examiner and special agent with the FBI for many years, was trained at the U.S. Department of Defense Polygraph Institute and also served with the Office of Naval Intelligence. He also was a captain with the U.S. Marine Corps. He currently has his own polygraph firm and conducts examinations for attorneys, businesses, and municipal governments. “Needless to say, he is highly regarded,” Baccus-Lobel said.

 

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