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Newton County Sheriff says previous sheriff destroyed evidence needed for open cases

An East Texas sheriff believes his predecessor may be to blame for the destruction of evidence in several active criminal cases.

An East Texas sheriff believes his predecessor may be to blame for the destruction of evidence in several active criminal cases.

Newton County Sheriff Billy Rowles said he believes that former Newton County Sheriff Eddie Shannon misled a District Judge into signing a motion to destroy evidence in pending criminal cases.

Sheriff Rowles explained the former sheriff promised Judge Craig Mixon in writing in a motion for disposition that the evidence was not linked to any active cases that were headed to court.

He said Shannon signed his name on the motion on December 10, 2016.

“The sheriff specifically said there were no more criminal actions pending on these cases so the judge was deceived,” said Sheriff Rowles.

The issue came to light when a man whose charges were dismissed came to pick up his gun, which had been held as evidence in his case, and the gun was missing according to Rowles.

That evidence was destroyed in December 2016 along with other evidence from cases involving drugs, weapons and other evidence dating back to 2015 Rowles said.

He also mentions there is destroyed evidence linked to the murder investigation of Krystal Hyatt who was found dead on the side of a county road in February of 2016.

Sheriff Billy Rowles explains under his predecessor, Eddy Shannon the death of the woman was initially ruled an undetermined death.

However, when Rowles took office in January he began looking into old cases and that’s when he came across new leads in Hyatt’s death.

“We took that and run we got a little information on it and found a person of interest and we started really digging into the case and low and behold some the evidence had been destroyed also,” said Sheriff Rowles.

He explains he has an indictment on a man who is in jail in Virginia but when he went to pick up evidence from the district attorney he found out it was destroyed.

Janett Craft, who is the aunt of the victim said Shannon told the family that Hyatt died from being outside in the elements.

“We are worried about the case we don’t know what happened we think someone should be held accountable,” said Craft. “I just want justice she deserves it, her family deserves it.”

Sheriff Rowles says he intends to find out exactly what happened and has called Texas Rangers to investigate.

Shannon released the following statement:

Now, nearly seven months after having left office, my successor has chosen to conduct a news conference to hurl allegations and conclusions of improprieties attributed to me while I was Sheriff. After defaming me, he then announced he has called upon the Texas Rangers to investigate his conclusions.

I have done nothing unlawful or of a criminal nature, and I welcome any investigation by the Texas Rangers. I, too, would like for them to “get to the bottom of it all.” I will cooperate fully with the Texas Rangers so the truth can be ascertained.

I am confident any such investigation would also include an inquiry into the timeline of events not only to the end of my term of office but through the date of the allegations made against me by current Sheriff Rowles.

The property room and evidence left my control and custody of January 1, 2017, and I do not have any knowledge of what may have happened to property and records after that date. I do know what happened while I was Sheriff and I am prepared to provide such information to the Texas Rangers, any Grand Jury, or a court of law. I will not argue or litigate the allegations in the news.

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