COOKE COUNTY, TX - There's heated debate in the race for the Cooke County District Attorney. A runoff is scheduled for April 8th between Janice Warder and incumbent Cindy Stormer.
But a recent judge's findings puts the spotlight on Warder and she says the timing seems suspicious. Here's Emi Fitzgerald.
"The law is blind but it shouldn't be deaf, dumb, and stupid."
"I certainly believe that a prosecutor needs to always see that to the best of their ability justice is done. And I believe that's what I have always done."
But a Dallas County District Judge says Janice Warner did not follow some of those rules in a case from 1986.
Warder served as the lead prosecutor in the trial of Clay Chabot. He was accused of raping and murdering Galua Crosby in Garland.
A jury convicted Chabot, sentencing him to prison. His brother-in-law, Gerald Pabst said at the time he was not involved in the assault.
Now DNA evidence points him to the scene. “Hhe was a very skilled liar. He was able to pass a polygraph that was the only technology we had then. I certainly wish we had the DNA technology in 1986."
A Dallas County District Judge stated Warder did not disclose all of the evidence, including another polygraph test that could have showed Pabst's involvement in the crime.
"I think she owes an explanation to the people that she seeks support from the people in Cooke County because it's so egregious."
Warder went on to be promoted within the Dallas County DA's office, then served 14 years as a district judge before Democrats swept through 43 offices in 2006.
But Stormer says these accusations point to potential problems if Warder were a Cooke County prosecutor.
"You have to ask what credibility can she ever have in Cooke County given that she has this in her past."
So why is this happening now, when the crime was committed 20 years ago? Chabot's attorneys have been filing paperwork ever since, most recently a few months ago. Since then, Warder moved to Cooke County and now seeks the District Attorney's office.
"That was a case that was 22 years ago. I would imagine Ms. Stormer would rather focus on what happened 22 years ago in Dallas County rather than the mess she's got in the Cooke County courthouse right now."
But both women say they are the best person for the job. “We've been prosecuting 200 more felonies each year than my predecessor with the same budget and the same staff."
"I have a reputation of being a tough prosecutor, I'm proud of that reputation and that's what I'll be for the citizens of Cooke Co."
No matter the qualifications, voters will decide who takes the third floor office in the courthouse. The runoff is April 8th. Early voting begins March 31st.