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A second Harris County grand jury indicted the wife of Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina on three felony counts of arson yesterday but did not indict the jurist, according to a Harris County assistant district attorney. Medina and his wife, Francisca, were previously both indicted on Jan. 17 in connection with the June 28, 2007, fire that damaged the Medinas’ home and a neighboring home in Spring. In the Jan. 17 indictment in Texas v. David Michael Medina, David Medina was charged with tampering/fabricating physical evidence, a felony, for allegedly presenting a letter concerning an arson fire “with knowledge of its falsity and with intent to affect the course and outcome of the investigation.” In the Jan. 17 indictment in Texas v. Francisca Jane Medina, Francisca Medina was charged with arson, a felony, for allegedly unlawfully starting a fire by igniting a combustible fluid. Those charges were dismissed by 176th District Court Judge Brian Rains on Jan. 18 at the request of the Harris County DA’s office on the ground that there was insufficient evidence. On Jan. 22, 263rd District Judge Jim Wallace ruled that the grand jury was not properly impaneled. But Vic Wisner, an assistant Harris County district attorney, says that in ensuing months, new evidence and witnesses developed in the case that warranted a second grand jury presentation. Wisner presented the case to the grand jury. “We felt we reached a stage that we had sufficient evidence to go forward,” Wisner says. Wisner says David Medina could be indicted later “if new evidence comes forth. But at this point, we’re comfortable with the charging decisions.” “If he has relevant testimony we would call him as a witness at trial,” Wisner says. “We’ve examined the law, and we don’t think the marital privilege applies.” As for why the grand jury declined to indict David Medina, Wisner says “I think that will be obvious at trial.” “They examined his conduct and didn’t feel it was criminal conduct, or they felt there was criminal conduct but there wasn’t probable cause,’” Wisner says, speaking generally about the grand jury decision. “But, I can promise, it will all be covered at trial.” Dick DeGuerin, a partner in Houston’s DeGuerin Dickson & Hennessy who represents Francisca Medina, says he is “shocked and surprised” by the indictments. “There is no evidence that Fran Medina had any reason to burn her home, much less that she did it,” DeGuerin says. “She was watching TV when her son told her there was an explosion and the garage was on fire.” DeGuerin noted that David Medina was not at home when the fire started, “and he is fully and completely supportive of his wife.” David Medina did not immediately return a call for comment. Terry Yates, David Medina’s lawyer, says the justice is “saddened” by his wife’s indictment and continues to maintain his own innocence. “If need be he will testify truthfully to everything he knows about this matter,” Yates says. The earlier dismissal of the Medinas’ indictments was one of the controversies that dogged former Harris County DA Chuck Rosenthal. Some members of the grand jury that indicted the Medinas were angered that the DA’s office dismissed the case and publicly leveled accusations that Rosenthal moved to dismiss the indictments for political reasons. Rosenthal repeatedly denied those accusations. Rosenthal resigned from his position on Feb. 15 after racist and sexist e-mails were found on his office computer. In a press release he sent out that same day, Rosenthal said prescription drugs had impaired his judgment. Jeff Dorrell, an assistant foreman of the first grand jury who publicly criticized the DA’s office for moving to dismiss the Medinas’ Jan. 17 indictments, says he feels vindicated by the second grand jury’s actions. “We were a little kinder to Mrs. Medina than the present grand jury,” says Dorrell, a partner in Houston’s Dorrell & Farris. This article originally appeared in Texas Lawyer , a publication of ALM.

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