By Catherine Dominguez
Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon will lead the prosecution in the high-profile 2015 shooting death of Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth.
Ligon was appointed attorney pro tem by Harris County 185th state District Court Judge Susan Brown after Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg
filed a motion to recuse her office April 5. According to the order
appointing Ligon, Ogg recused the office because now Assistant District
Attorney Vivian King previously represented a witness in the case while in private practice.
Ligon told The Courier in an exclusive interview Monday he would approach the case fairly with a "high-caliber" team.
"This is going to be a unique combination of
agencies," Ligon said. "When you have the capital murder trial of a
police officer, it's going to be a drain on resources."
On his team will be Galveston District Attorney Jack Roady and his First Assistant Kevin Petroff. From Ligon's office, Trial Bureau Chief Kelly Blackburn and Chief Prosecutor in the 9th state District Court Donna Berkey will help in the case. In addition, Ligon said he has been in touch with the Texas Attorney General's Office about assistance on the case; however, he had no further information regarding that office's involvement.
"We will provide all the resources needed to get to a right and just
result," Ligon said. "What is important for people to understand the
caliber of prosecutors we are putting on this. These are professional
As part of the order appointing Ligon, neither Ligon nor the other
prosecutors will be compensated for their work on the case. Harris
County, the order states, will incur all expenses of the investigation
and prosecution including but not limited to securing of records and
other evidence, the travel expenses of the state's witnesses and the
reasonable fees of expert witnesses employed by Ligon for the case.
32, is accused of gunning down Goforth on Aug. 28, 2015, at a northwest
Harris County gas station while the deputy filled up his police
cruiser. Miles allegedly ran up behind Goforth, put a gun to his head
and fired. After Goforth fell, Miles allegedly stood over him and
emptied his pistol.
Goforth was in uniform when he died. Miles has been charged with capital murder.
During an arraignment last month, Miles entered a not guilty plea
ending a more than yearlong process of evaluations and hearings to
explore and help restore Miles' mental health, which prevented the trial
Ligon did not say whether he would seek the death penalty in the case.
"It is still too early to make a determination as to whether we seek
the death penalty or not because we have had substantive conversations
with the defense attorneys," Ligon said.
Who they are:
Brett Ligon – Ligon was first
elected Montgomery County district attorney in 2008 and took office in
January 2009. After receiving his degree from the South Texas College of
Law, he became an assistant district attorney with the Harris County
District Attorney's Office. While at the District Attorney's Office, he
was a misdemeanor and felony prosecutor and chief of the Justice of the
Peace Division. He left the District Attorney's Office to become staff
counsel for the Houston Police Officers' Union.
Jack Roady - Roady was first
elected Galveston County criminal district attorney in 2010. Before
that, Roady served as a trial and appellate prosecutor with the Harris
County District Attorney's Office in Houston
for 10 years. Roady has served on the board of directors for the Texas
District & County Attorneys Association and is an appointed member
of the Texas Criminal Justice Integrity Unit. In 2016, he was named
Prosecutor of the Year by the State Bar of Texas Criminal Justice
Section. Roady told Texas Police News Tuesday morning, "I'm looking forward to working closely with DA Ligon and his
team to see that justice is done in this case".
Kelly Blackburn – Blackburn began
his career as a prosecutor in 1999 at the Harris County District
Attorney's Office. In 2008, Blackburn worked for the Department of Justice
for the Western District of Texas handling large-scale narcotics
offenses, human smuggling, bulk case smuggling, firearms, and organized
crime. In 2010, he began working at the Montgomery County District
Donna Berkey – Berkey worked for
the Harris County District Attorney's Office before coming to work at
the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office in July 2016.