DALLAS — A judge on Wednesday ordered the release of a former Dallas police officer accused of ordering two killings in 2017 after prosecutors said that they don’t have enough evidence to move forward with the capital murder case against him.
After listening to more than three hours of testimony by a Dallas homicide detective, Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Audrey Moorehead said there was no probable cause and ordered the release of Bryan Riser. The 13-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department was fired after his colleagues arrested him in March on charges in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme.
During a hearing Wednesday to decide whether the case should go forward to a grand jury to consider an indictment, prosecutors disagreed with the detective’s assessment that they had enough evidence to prosecute.
“Where we stand as a district attorney’s office right now today, we do not feel there’s sufficient probable cause for this case,” Dallas County prosecutor Jason Fine told the judge.
A spokesman for the Dallas County sheriff’s office said Riser would be released once the jail receives the paperwork for his case from the court.
An exchange between Fine and homicide Detective Esteban Montenegro in court revealed that police and prosecutors first discussed the case in December 2019, but that prosecutors didn’t think police had a solid case. Fine also said that prosecutors told police in March that they still didn’t think there was enough evidence.
Nonetheless, police arrested Riser, 37, in the unconnected killings of Liza Saenz, 31, and Albert Douglas, 61. Police Chief Eddie Garcia said last month that a man had come forward in August 2019 and told authorities he had kidnapped and killed them at Riser’s direction.
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot said Wednesday that prosecutors don’t have enough “corroboration of co-defendant statements and accomplice testimony” but that the investigation remains open and prosecutors continue to work with police.
In court, Montenegro admitted to a problem with a statement in the police affidavit that led to Riser’s arrest. He said a claim that cellphone records placed Riser at or near where the victims were killed was “an error on my part.”
In a revised arrest warrant affidavit released this week, that line was changed.