Jury trial begins for commissioner charged with abuse of official capacity

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The jury trial of Clay County Precinct 4 Commissioner Albert Jerome “A.J.” Peek began late Monday afternoon in the 97th District Court with testimony from Precinct 4 foreman Billy Tyson.

Peek, of Vashti, was indicted May 21, 2012 on a single count of abuse of official capacity, a class A misdemeanor. Peek is believed to have had a county employee use a county-owned backhoe to clean out a ditch on private property in Precinct 4 to benefit the owner of the property.

Jury selection for the trial lasted until 4 p.m. Monday. Because Peek is charged with a misdemeanor, only six jurors are required.

The case was set to go to trial on Jan. 17, and again March 25, but was postponed on both occasions.

Special prosecutor Ron Poole, assistant district attorney for the 235th Judicial District in Cooke County, said the trial was delayed due to the death of a key witness in the case. The witness, landowner Ricky Staley, died Dec. 13.

In a January interview, Poole said that due to the death, the prosecution needed additional evidence.

Testimony in the trial will continue at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

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Pioneer Sentinel

The Pioneer Sentinel is an online newspaper designed to deliver the news of Clay County, Texas, in a concise and community-friendly format.

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