Durham DA: Nothing came of new Huerta investigation

akenney@newsobserver.comMay 30, 2014 

— The anonymous letter that prompted further investigation into the shooting death of Jesús Huerta in the back seat of a Durham police car last fall did not change the outcome of the case, District Attorney Leon Stanback said Friday.

Stanback has not disclosed the contents of the letter, but said in a written release that investigators found it to be rumor and conjecture that did not warrant any further action.

The investigation into the letter began late in January, about two weeks after Stanback announced that no criminal charges would result from Huerta’s death on Nov. 19.

Huerta, 17, had his hands cuffed behind his back when he died of a gunshot wound, according to police. Durham police said the shot was self-inflicted and that Officer Samuel Duncan had failed to find the gun during a search.

The renewed investigation began after Alex Charns, an attorney for Huerta’s family, forwarded an anonymous tip to the State Bureau of Investigation, according to Stanback.

“We just want them to look at every single detail,” Raziel Huerta, Jesús Huerta’s brother, said at the time.

Charns declined at the time to describe the evidence sent to the SBI, but he has raised questions about agents’ practice of keeping handwritten interview notes instead of recording witnesses electronically.

The district attorney agreed to resume the criminal inquiry after meeting with Charns and the SBI, according to Stanback. In their inquiry, SBI investigators reviewed gun permits, firearm qualifications and firing range records.

Investigators also found the anonymous source of the letter, who “admitted that he reported rumor and conjecture without a factual basis,” Stanback’s statement said.

Stanback thanked investigators for their continuing cooperation and said his office hopes “that these additional facts bring closure to the mourning family.”

Charns said Friday that Huerta’s family had no comment on Stanback’s decision not to bring criminal charges in the case.

“The Huerta family thanks the SBI and the D.A. for following up on the area of inquiry that was identified,” he wrote in an email. “I offer my thanks as well.”

Kenney: 919-829-4870; Twitter: @KenneyNC

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