HOUSTON, Texas — A veteran homicide investigator in the high profile murder case of the executed Houston deputy has been fired for admitting that he had sex with a key witness. The witness is the alleged mistress of Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth who was shot execution style in Houston in late August when he was putting gas into his patrol car.
Deputy Goforth was dressed in uniform and near his marked patrol unit when a man unloaded 15 rounds into the back of his head and back. Shannon Miles, has been charged with his murder.
Breitbart Texas reported on October 9th, that prosecutors at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office disclosed to the defense that Harris County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Clay Clopton acknowledged to Harris County District Attorney investigators that he had “engaged in consensual sexual conduct with a witness in the same investigation.” The investigator is described in a report from KTRK, ABC13, as being a well-known homicide investigator.
Breitbart Texas previously reported that Anthony Osso, a defense attorney for Shannon Miles said he intended to use information about an alleged affair between this same female witness and Deputy Goforth to show that the slain deputy was not actually “on duty” at the time of the murder.
Witnesses told Breitbart Texas on the night of the deputy’s execution that they observed a woman at the murder scene, laying over Deputy Goforth’s body crying uncontrollably. They said she was a witness to the shooting.
Harris County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Ralph Gonzales previously told Breitbart Texas that the reason Goforth was at the station had no bearing on whether he was “on duty” or not. He said Goforth was in uniform, working a scheduled shift, in a marked patrol unit, in his sector. Gonzales says there is no question that the officer was on duty.
Although not all of the facts have been released or probably even obtained in the investigation yet, if the alleged mistress is now alleged to have slept with a deputy who was the murder investigator in the case, this could have different effects on the jury. The defense is arguing that their client cannot be convicted of capital murder because the deputy was not on duty at the time of his murder. This could undermine her credibility and cast doubt on her statements that she had an affair with the slain deputy for 15 months, or it could lend support to that statement. It depends on the other evidence that comes out at the trial and how the particular jury views the evidence.
Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman released a statement that said the Harris County Sheriff’s Office convened a meeting of the HCSO Administrative Disciplinary Committee on Thursday. The committee was presented with the Internal Affairs Bureau findings from the inquiry into the actions of the homicide investigator, and the committee later made a recommendation to terminate Sergeant Clopton.
Hickman said, “I immediately ordered Sgt. Clopton to appear before his chain of command to be notified of his termination.” The Sheriff continued, “Harris County procedures afford Sgt. Clopton the right to appeal this decision directly to the Office of the Sheriff and to the Harris County Sheriff’s Civil Service Commission.
Sheriff Hickman said, “As I have previously stated, Sgt. Clopton’s actions were unethical and inexcusable. I remain committed to the first tenet of the Sheriff’s Office Core Values – to merit and maintain the public’s trust.”
Earlier in the week, ABC13 in Houston reported that Judge Denise Collins recused herself from the case saying only that, it was necessary to “preserve the interests of justice,” and to “avoid any possible conceivable question of propriety.” The local Houston television station reported that Collins said, “I wish I were able to discuss the matter but unfortunately I am unable to do so, as I am not allowed to talk about any pending criminal case no matter where it is assigned.” ABC13 also reported that neither the Harris County District Attorney’s office nor defense lawyers for Shannon Miles would comment on the situation.
Judge Collins has served as a criminal district judge in Harris County for over 18 years.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and an associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter@LanaShadwick2