Smith County DA supports prosecutor who reached plea deal with suspect in trooper's death

SMITH COUNTY - Jacob Putman, a candidate for the Smith County District Attorney's seat in 2018, has apologized to current DA Matt Bingham for actions taken in 2015 that resulted in a lesser charge and the dropping of another charge for the man now accused of killing a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper near Fairfield on Thanksgiving Day.

Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham said Thursday in a news conference he accepted Putman's apology and will not terminate him. Bingham said Putman made a mistake, and given he is the only candidate running for DA, Bingham he doesn't want Putman to miss out on a year of knowledge in the court with the capital murder cases coming up. Putman has no opponents for the DA's position thus far.

Bingham said Wendesday he did not know about nor does he approve of the plea agreement given to Dabrett Black,  the man accused in the Thanksgiving Day shooting of DPS Trooper Damon Allen.

In aplea agreement filed in March 2016 by Putman, a Smith County prosecutor, he recommends Black receive a one-year jail sentence on a misdemeanor charge in lieu of the two felony charges of assault against a public servant and trying to take an officer's weapon.

Black was accused of beating a Smith County deputy and trying to take his gun in 2015.

Bingham said Wednesday Putman did not consult with him nor his top assistant when the recommendation for reduced charges was made, which Bingham said is a policy in the DA's office with few exceptions.

During Thursday's news conference, Bingham said Putman did not follow protocol. He said he did not think the case from 2015 had to be reduced to be prosecuted. However, he also said Wesley Dean, the Smith County deputy involved in the 2015 incident, did not want to go to court in the case because he would have to explain why he left his job at the Sheriff's Office. 

Returning to the topic of Putman's future, Bingham said he will be "the people's DA."

"It is of the utmost importance for Putman to get the most experience he can," Bingham said. "He is the only candidate and he will be the next DA. I intend to help and make sure he has as much experience as he can get."

Bingham said he does not view Putman's actions in 2015 as criminal. Rather they were a violation of office policy, he said. He said if Putman was not running for DA, they would be having a different conversation.  

© 2017 KYTX-TV


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