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DA's Duties Help to Define Justice
Team Effort Results in a Conviction
Your Criminal Justice System in Action
The role of Criminal Defense Attorneys

September 1, 2020
The Post Newspaper

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of eight columns on the criminal justice system in Galveston County and the second about the DA’s office.

On the evening of April 9, 2017, three men were breaking into cars in a San Luis Resort parking lot. A bell hop spotted the trio and reported their activities to hotel security. An unarmed employee – Phillip Molis – confronted the men and one of them opened fire, gunning him down. Meanwhile an off-duty Randall County Sheriff Deputy – Thomas Bushek who was staying at the hotel heard three shots, a pause, and then more shorts – responded to the scene.  

Galveston Police arrived within minutes of receiving the call and found Molis still alive but with wounds in his arms and legs, and in his abdomen.   Molis told tell the officers the direction the trio had fled, but later died from his injuries.  Galveston police established a perimeter and using K-9s conducted a search.  One of the men – Tyrone Haynes – was found hiding behind a nearby air conditioning unit. The other two suspects alluded apprehension. As the crime scene investigation continued into the next morning, police discovered a gun, gloves and clothing in a nearby yard.

Days later two men – Brandon Ledford and Marcus Moffett – went to the jail attempting to bail out Haynes.  Because they refused to identify themselves investigators were notified.  Ledford was followed and was seen walking away from the area where discarded clothing and the gun had been discovered.  Using DNA and surveillance footage investigators were able to identify Ledford as the shooter.

During the investigation the DA’s office was present at the crime scene and assisted Galveston Police in obtaining search warrants and determining evidence to be tested.

The DA’s office presented the case to the Grand Jury which “true billed” it, issuing an indictment on December 14, 2017. Remember from last week that the Grand Jury only determines that there’s enough evidence to take the case to trial.

Subsequently an attorney was appointed for Ledford and a mental evaluation was conducted. Bond was set for $1 million. His trial was initially set for June 15, 2018 but then postponed to allow the defense more time for “discovery.” 

The second trial date was set for January 2019 and then further delayed while gunshot residue, ballistics, and DNA results were being processed.   After several further delays the case went to trial on November 14, 2019.

Ledford pleaded not guilty, the jury was selected, and the DA’s Office and Ledford’s attorney presented their cases.  The defendant was found guilty of the murder of Molis.  The jury also decided his sentence. 

The DA’s office noted Ledford’s past criminal history and Deputy Bushek’s recollection of shots being fired followed by a pause and then more shots fired thereby showing aggravating circumstances. The DA’s office asked for a sentence of life in prison.  On November 21, 2019 the jury returned a sentence of eighty years in the state penitentiary.    His case is currently under appeal.

The bottom line is that with a team effort between law enforcement and the DA’s office justice was served.

Author and Columnist
Photo of Bill (Sarge) Sargent
September 1, 2020