Pubdate: Sun, 22 Oct 2000
Date: 10/22/2000
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Author: Rev. Charles W. Kiker

I read with interest the Oct. 17 cyberletter of Sheila Lopez of Tulia.
I too am from Tulia, born and bred in Swisher County. She claims
everybody knows what everybody else is doing in a small town like
Tulia. Yet I do not know her. I wonder if she knows me. She certainly
does not know why I have spoken out against the drug sting in Tulia.

I have spoken out because I felt, and still feel, that those accused
have not received fair trials. "Everybody knows" is not sufficient
evidence to convict, in a fair trial. Specific charges are supposed to
be proved, beyond reasonable doubt. Yet the testimony of the chief
witness for the prosecution is riddled with inconsistencies and
contradictions. His reputation is suspect. His previous law
enforcement boss has testified that he is not believable. Yet because
of "common knowledge" people have been sent to prison for extremely
long sentences: 20, 40, 60, 99 years.

And even the "common knowledge" that Ms. Lopez cites says that most of
those on the list were known drug users or dealers. Yet the charges
were for selling, not for use. And if "most of those on the list" were
known users and dealers, does that not imply that some were not?

It is this kind of specious argument, which, unfortunately, seems to
be common opinion in Tulia, making it impossible for people out of
favor with the prevailing culture to receive a fair trial in Tulia.

REV. CHARLES W. KIKER (retired),
Tulia, Texas