Justice Delayed

A son's claims of police misconduct may jeopardizea 30-year-old case againsthis father's accused killer

"He can be bitter and angry at the police department. He can join that long list of guys that are. But for me, anyway, I was given a task that was kind of unusual, and I did it. And I feel pretty proud of myself. But if he wants to be angry, go ahead. Tums are relatively cheap."

The woman who must somehow overcome the differences between Abbondandolo and Orosco, assistant district attorney Elsa Alcala, would prefer not to have to address Orosco's allegation that police changed his statement.

"I can't say that he is correct in what he says," she says. "I can't say that he is incorrect. I'm trying to not form an opinion in that regard. I'm trying to decide whether I can prove that Mr. Lott is guilty of the crime or not."

While Alcala downplays the impact of Orosco's claims on her ability to prosecute Lott, defense attorney Bires sees the schism between authorities and their only eyewitness in a more significant light.

"[Orosco] is crazy and we're going to have some fun with him," says Bires. He suggests that Orosco identified Lott from seeing his picture in a True Detective-style magazine as a child, not from having seen him inside Orosco Wholesale Supply with a gun.

"Let's put it this way: He's their eyewitness. Without him," says Bires, "they have very little else."

Bires will ask a judge next week to drop the charge against Lott again, on grounds that authorities have violated provisions of the state's speedy trial act. Police had information that Lott was in New Orleans 23 years ago but did nothing, he says.

Sitting in his west Houston office, Al Orosco acknowledges in a hushed, almost conspiratorial tone that, yes, some people think he is crazy for pushing the issue.

But he insists he's not, and says he would have just kept quiet about the discrepancy he believes police inserted into his statement if he hadn't seen Bires on television claiming that he hadn't come forward for 30 years.

"I should not have to be doing this," Orosco says. "But I had to draw the line.

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