DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A man being held in the Dallas County jail on a murder charge will soon be released after the Dallas Police Department lost data that could have included evidence in his criminal case.
Jonathan Pitts, who pleaded not guilty to the 2019 murder, was set to go on trial Thursday.
But on that same day, Dallas County records show the prosecutor filed a motion to delay the trial.
In his motion, the prosecutor said after discussing with the lead detective in the case, “It was learned the potential data has been deleted from his k-drive.”
Pitts’ attorney, George Ashford, said Friday that he was told some of the evidence in their case may have been mistakenly deleted and that the detective won’t know until an audit is completed.
Pitts will have to wear an ankle monitor.
It comes after this week’s disclosure Dallas PD lost eight terabytes of data as it was being moved into long-term storage.
Dallas County DA John Creuzot publicly disclosed the situation this week in a memo. He was out of town Friday and declined comment.
In his memo, Creuzot revealed the city of Dallas had only notified him about the situation on Aug. 6, while the city became aware of it April 5.
Toby Shook, a defense attorney in Dallas, worked as a prosecutor for the Dallas District Attorney’s Office for 23 years, and served as the Chief of the Felony Trial Division. “This could be a very serious issue. This is a really big red flag if you’re a defense attorney. You have to determine if there’s evidence, interviews, potentially exculpatory evidence that’s been lost by DPD.”
He said the delay in reporting the situation to the DA’s office is troubling. “It would be very concerning for the DA’s office to get late notice for one, and then to try to determine exactly what kind of data breach we have.”
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said this week he was blindsided by the disclosure. He said residents deserve an explanation.
Council member Paula Blackmon, who worked at City Hall for two previous mayors, Tom Leppert and Mike Rawlings, expressed concern the mayor was never told by city staff.
She said former City Manager Mary Suhm always notified them when something urgent came up. “That was the mantra, no surprises. She didn’t want to be blind-sided and she didn’t want to the Mayor, nor her city council to be blind-sided. I think that’s the alarming part of this is why people were not notified.”
The city said it was the intention to fully evaluate whether the data was recoverable or not to know the full extent of the problem, if any.
But Blackmon said the mayor and council members should still have been given a heads up. “You basically should say this happened. Give us a week to get details. Give us a month to get details. We don’t know what this means.”
CBS 11 News requested an interview with a city administrator about this but didn’t hear back.