Case Conclusion Date: 03.07.2002
Practice Area: Criminal defense
Outcome: Not Guilty by Jury
Description: Gregory Steen was charged with Murder. After a week long jury trial, the Travis County jury found him "Not Guilty." Here is an excerpt from a newspaper article about the case. This was before the case went to the jury and Mr. Steen was found "Not Guilty." "The case is turning out to be not as simple as the prosecution would like -- but it has featured a local rogue's gallery more colorful than most run-of-the-mill Travis County trials, making it more difficult than usual to sort out the guilty from ... the less guilty. And as defense attorney Robert Icenhauer-Ramirez would have it, an apparently incomplete investigation by Travis County Sheriff's Office detectives, coupled with the state's reliance on a less-than-credible star witness, has left Steen -- already notorious for being shot in the back by an Austin police officer while fleeing a crack house in October of 1997 -- to take the rap." "According to Kelly McGary, Steen's ex-girlfriend and the state's only witness connecting Steen to the crime, Dunham was killed some time around 10:30pm -- which would make Green's account impossible. Unless, of course, McGary is wrong -- and there is considerable reason to believe she has a less than unbreakable relationship with the truth. McGary, a convicted forger, got an immunity deal from the DA's office in exchange for her testimony. As she tells it, after she and Steen discovered the cocaine they bought wasn't very pure, she rode with Steen in her car, following Dunham and another man to Platt Lane, where Steen and the other man walked up to Dunham's open window. She said she heard gunfire and that Steen and the other man returned to her car, where Steen handed her a pistol. (McGary once positively identified the other man as Timothy Chandler, but later recanted, saying she could not be "100% sure" -- so the state dropped murder charges against Chandler two weeks ago.) But the trial testimony is just McGary's most recent version. Since 1997, she has given roughly four different renditions of what happened that night, accounts she admitted Tuesday were rife with lies. "I was on a lot of drugs at this point," McGary said. However, she insists that since she was given immunity in March 2000 she has told the truth about the murder. In court, Icenhauer-Ramirez pointed out that her various stories -- including her alleged truthful testimony -- don't seem to add up. At one point, McGary told investigators that she had been riding in the victim's Ford Escort, behind the driver. McGary testified Tuesday that she was mistaken, and that she had never been in the Escort, "because I don't like to ride in other people's cars." After the murder, McGary said, although she said she was frightened of Steen and afraid for "what might happen" to her, she didn't part company with him until she made sure he gave her some cash -- money she said she assumed he got from Dunham. She waited another four days before fleeing to Houston, where she pawned one of two pistols she said Steen gave her, before going to New Orleans -- where she was arrested for another forgery. "So, you're telling this jury that you were at the murder scene," Icenhauer-Ramirez asked, "that your car was used in the getaway; that you've got the cash [from the robbery that allegedly motivated the murder]; [that] you've got the murder weapon; that you fled to Houston. ... but that you're not involved in this homicide?" "Correct," McGary said. The defense will begin presenting its case this week." "On March 7, after six hours of deliberations, jurors found defendant Gregory Steen not guilty of the 1997 murder of homeless drifter Jim Dunham."