BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — Another big delay for the capital murder trial of a former Austin police officer Vontrey Clark. Clark is accused of hiring someone to kill his girlfriend and their unborn child.
On Thursday, a judge agreed to the defense’s request for more time, pushing the trial back to 2020 on the fifth anniversary of Samantha Dean’s death.
“Once you know who the accused is, he’s been identified and placed into custody, five years seems to me a remarkable amount of time to get this case to trial,” said retired Travis County judge Charlie Baird.
Dean was found in a Bastrop parking lot in 2015, she was seven months pregnant. Clark has been in the Bastrop County Jail since September of 2015 after federal agents extradited him from Bali.
Dean worked with the Kyle Police Department in the victim services unit. “Everybody knew she was going to be an excellent mother,” said one of her co-workers.
Five years is a long time for friends and family to wait and could create some challenges. “It’s just natural circumstances that you don’t remember things as well as you did shortly after they happened. So, it could very well affect the quality of their testimony,” said Baird.
However, Baird says he understands that a high-profile case like this could take a substantial amount of time due to the amount of evidence investigators and lawyers are having to go through.
“There could be fingerprints, confessions, eyewitnesses, just a lot of evidence to put your arms around and marshal and make sure you are prepared for trial on both sides,” said Baird.
KXAN did reach out to Dean’s family for a comment, we talked with her mother who said she is under a gag order and could not comment or talk with the media.
Clark is facing the death penalty. Studies show death penalty cases in Texas cost two-to-three times more than imprisoning someone in maximum security for life. Since reinstating the death penalty int he early 1980’s, Texas has executed 555 people. That includes 10 people this year.
Right now there are more than 200 people on death row awaiting their sentence. That’s the lowest since the 1980’s.
KXAN’s Lauren Lanmon takes a look at the case tonight on KXAN News at 10.