Expert hired by prosecutors now working for Angleton defense

  9:12 PM 7/17/1998

Video deposition due in slaying

Copyright 1998 Houston Chronicle

An expert hired by prosecutors to evaluate evidence in the case of Robert Angleton, a former bookie and police informant accused of conspiring to kill his wife, is now on retainer for the defense.

But because of scheduling conflicts, Steve Cain, president of Wisconsin-based Applied Forensic Technologies International Inc., will give a videotaped deposition next Friday. Angleton's capital murder trial is scheduled to start July 28.

Michael Ramsey, Angleton's attorney, told prosecutors and state District Judge Brian Rains during a pre-trial hearing Friday that Cain was now working for him and he then asked the judge to allow the videotaped deposition.

Ramsey said Cain, who did a voice analysis report for prosecutors that the defense considers favorable, will be in Houston next week to testify in an unrelated civil case and will be leaving for Hong Kong on July 30.

Ramsey said he wants Cain's testimony ready for jurors in case prosecutors decide not to call him to testify before he leaves Houston.

Robert Angleton, 49, and his brother, 55, were charged in the April 16, 1997, slaying of Robert's wife, Doris McGown Angleton, 46, at the couple's River Oaks home in the 3000 block of Ella Lee.

Roger Angleton killed himself in jail Feb. 7, leaving notes indicating he killed his brother's wife in a frame-up to extort money from him. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty and have said they don't think the notes clear Robert Angleton.

Cain's report to prosecutors was touted by defense attorneys as proof of Angleton's innocence because it said there are "dissimilarities" between Angleton's voice and those on a tape where two men can be heard plotting the murder.

The tape, originally purported to be the brothers' voices, was made by Roger Angleton. It was found in his briefcase when he was arrested.

Ramsey said prosecutors told Cain to stop working on the case after receiving his analysis.

"He's an important witness for us," Ramsey said. "How can (prosecutors) try to impeach an expert they paid $4,000 to for his work?"

Ramsey said Cain, who went on the defense's retainer Thursday, will prepare a presentation for his testimony, something the lawyer says the expert was stopped from doing by prosecutors.

But prosecutor Lyn McClellan said no one stopped Cain from finishing any work and that he was hired for the analysis and to confirm that the tape had not been altered.

Cain did that and wanted to finish his work quickly because he was going on a honeymoon, McClellan said. Besides, the voice evidence is not as dramatic as defense attorneys maintained.

"I don't think the case will turn on an expert's opinion on voice analysis," McClellan said.

But despite that, McClellan said prosecutors plan to call Cain anyway and that Ramsey's concerns that he would not take the stand were unfounded.

Meanwhile, in other developments:

Jury selection was completed and a panel of five women and seven men will hear the case. Two female alternates also were selected.

The defense asked Rains to carry a request for bail hearing on the docket that was prompted by Cain's report. With trial so close, Ramsey said he would only ask for a bail hearing if testimony is delayed. Angleton has been jailed without bail since his arrest and Rains has already denied him bail once.

Rains said he would order the Harris County Clerk's office to send the Angleton divorce file to the Sheriff's Department. The defense plans to have it examined for Roger Angleton's fingerprints and Rains also said defense experts should be given access to Roger Angleton's jail fingerprint card.

Rains is also reviewing Houston Police Department internal records to determine what defense attorneys can use from them during trial about Robert Angleton's role as a police informant.