With his opponent Coty Wamp watching in the back of the room, District Attorney Neal Pinkston declared himself the “only qualified attorney and only qualified prosecutor in this race to be elected” to the Pachyderm Club.
As seemingly every Republican candidate for various offices looked on, DA Pinkston rehashed much of what he said in last week’s speech to another large body of Republicans.
“There are some very strict ethical guidelines a prosecutor must follow if a case is pending investigation, or pending in the court system,” he said. “Prosecutors cannot speak about these cases. We can’t go into all the issues, and the other reason I’m not out talking or throwing out grandiose ideas is that we’re working. It’s very hard work.”
He also spoke about the Cold Case unit, which he said investigates unsolved murder cases that are at least five years old. DA Pinkston said there have been 65 unsolved murders in the last 10 years. He said that because of advancements in technology, investigators can solve cases that were unsolvable in years prior. According to the Cold Case website, there are still 18 unsolved cases from 2012-14 alone.
The district attorney said it can take up to a year for the TBI or FBI to process evidence when it is shipped off for DNA testing. While there are private companies who can do testing faster than those agencies, these companies cost the county money, he noted.
“We have to wait on that testing,” the speaker said about why it can take so long to get some cases to trial. “And if it's exculpatory, we have to provide it to the defendant or if it's inculpatory we also have to provide it for the defendant.”
DA Pinkston emphasized how the prosecutor does not have complete control over what cases go to trial and which cases end in plea agreements. He said he wants to try as many cases as he can, but that the judge and defense attorneys also have a say in what happens. Because of how the COVID-19 pandemic pushed back cases in 2020 and 2021, he said there is a backlog of trials.
“I know there's a bunch scheduled,” DA Pinkston said. "Now how far that goes or how many get tried, that's a different question. But we'll be ready when we're supposed to be.”