GEORGETOWN (KXAN) - Patric Fairs, the former University of Texas basketball star who was charged and then released in the strangulation death of his former girlfriend, was the primary beneficiary of a life insurance policy taken out the year before Philise Estes' death.
KXAN News uncovered the civil lawsuit filed in Williamson County in 2008 by the Modern Woodmen of America insurance company. Both Fairs and Estes' mother, Bobbie Williams Estes, were named as beneficiaries. Williamson County District Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield awarded $321,457.46 to Estes when Fairs failed to respond to the lawsuit.
Fairs, a basketball star for the University of Texas Longhorns in the 1980s, was living with Estes at the time of her death in 2006. Estes, a mother of two, was a UT security guard.
A murder charge against Fairs was dismissed last week after his attorney argued prosecutors in the case had not tested any new evidence since Fairs was arrested and jailed in October 2011.
"The proper protocol is for the prosecutor to have all his ducks in a row, DNA, fingerprints, where the prosecutor would know that I've got a good, solid case. Not to fire first and ask questions later," said Fairs' attorney, Jeremiah Williams.
KXAN legal analyst Mindy Montford, a former prosecutor, said it is not unusual that a prosecutor would not test all the evidence collected at a crime scene.
"Years could go by before a prosecutor says let's go through all the evidence let's see what we have and then they selectively would pick items to be tested," said Montford. "What we don't know is why it took so long to file. Originally they had evidence they didn't file.
"Then suddenly in 2011 they file it and now here it is a year later and he's spent a year in jail and so it does beg in to question what changed or what changed from when they first got the case to 2011 and what has changed now. "
Montford believes the high-profile exoneration of Michael Morton is one reason why charges against Fairs were dismissed.
"I think more and more attorneys are looking at these cases. Certainly prosecutors and judges are looking at these cases a little bit differently in that, and this is a perfect example of one. If there is any inkling that this person might not have done this and if there is possible evidence that exonerates him then why not let him out and continue the investigation, but don't make the person sit in jail while its pending," said Montford.
In a statement to KXAN, District Attorney John Bradley said it was not appropriate to comment about evidence in the case.
"In due course, the new information will be presented to a grand jury for a decision," said Bradley. "I am comfortable that the prosecutors have handled the case professionally and appropriately during a complex investigation."
Bradley added that the investigation in to Fairs is ongoing.
His attorney said Fairs has returned to California where he ran a basketball camp before his arrest in October 2011.
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