Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cold Justice Uncovers 31 Year Old Murder Indictment

Episode 3 of TNT's Cold Justice uncovered a 31 year old blunder, or a mystery - depending on how you look at it.  In last night's episode, former prosecutor Kelly Siegler returned to her home town in Matagorda County with Yolanda McCleary and Johnny Bonds to look into the 1982 homicide of 48 year old Charlene Corporon, who was shot in the head in the bedroom of her Palacio Texas home.  Corporon ran a successful agricultural business in town with her son Gary, following the accidental death of her husband.

Police were called to the Corporon home after Charlene's boyfriend reportedly called her home and Gary told him "Charlene doesn't look too good". Her body was discovered on her bed, and although the bullets recovered from her head were fragmented they were later identified as .22 caliber. Back in 1982, there were two suspects in this case - Charlene's son Gary and her boyfriend. Family and friends told police that Gary was physically abusive towards his mother and he is believed to have injured her on more than one occasion.  A former employee reportedly overheard Gary threaten to kill his mother.  Her boyfriend was also a suspect early on because several of Charlene's friends reported that she planned to break off the relationship with him.

The investigation in 1982 led law enforcement to Gary Corporon, and the DA brought the case to a grand jury to seek a murder indictment against Corporon.  This is where the mystery or blunder begins - law enforcement believed that the grand jury "passed" on this case, believing the police didn't have enough evidence at that point.  Corporon had been arrested and later released on $100,000 bail. Several years, then decades went by and the case went cold.  That is until a new sheriff decided to look into 5 unsolved homicides and Kelly Siegler and Cold Justice got involved.  Their investigation uncovered something shocking - they discovered the grand jury had indicted Gary Corporon for murder on September 20, 1982!  What happened here? Why were police under the impression the grand jury had not indicted Corporon, and who is responsible for ensuring the CORRECT information gets to those who need it?

It seems to me that this would be the responsibility of the District Attorney's office.  After all, they would be prosecuting the case - did somebody drop the ball back in 1982?  This seems shocking to me.  Gary Corporon is now 58 years old and is believed to be working off-shore in Louisiana.  Former sheriff's detective Nubbin Chamblee worked the case back in 1982, and he says he was surprised to find out that Corporon had been indicted by the original grand jury. Chamblee declined to discuss the potential miscommunication that led to the embarrassing 31 year delay in bringing this case to trial.

There is no record of the indictment, according to District Clerk Becky Denn. The former district attorney and former sheriff involved with the case in 1982 declined to comment. No surprise there, given the potential issues that have come to light. I believe the current District Attorney plans to re-indict Gary Corporon, using the information gathered from the original investigation back in 1982 and what Siegler and McClary were able to add based on their look at this case.  Siegler found new witnesses who saw Gary Corporon with a .22 caliber gun just 2 weeks before his mother was killed.  Corporon reportedly showed a .22 caliber rifle to friends during a fishing trip. This could be a crucial detail, given the chances of finding the murder weapon after 31 years is not likely.

Siegler interviewed her father, the town's barber who knew Charlene, Gary and Charlene's boyfriend.  Siegler's father owns a barber shop/liquor store in this small town - Siegler's hand written signs still hang on her father's wall of the barber shop.  That is definitely a small town where everybody seems to know each other, which makes this whole thing even more odd.  You would think something as important as a murder indictment would be followed up on - I don't understand how Gary Corporon could be out on bail for 31 years. Doesn't the bail bond company follow up on people they bail out of jail? It seems there were so many missed opportunities and system failures with this murder case.  Mistakes happen, but it's truly frightening to think that this may not have even been uncovered had it not been for a new sheriff and Cold Justice.


13 comments:

  1. Corruption? Did the bail get returned? Who signed off? Maybe more than one needs jail time.

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    1. Anonymous (10/1 @ 1:14AM),
      Those are great questions. It doesn't seem likely any bail agent would have let a bond of that amount just skip. Not much information on those details have been released. Hmm, wonder why? Makes quite a few people look bad.

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  2. We (the audience) heard Gary's son say that he was in Africa working off-shore oil. That's surely a violation of the bond, if it still stands. I'd like to hear from whoever underwrote that bond. They only forfeit if he doesn't show for trial. Interesting mess, follow-up episode is definitely called for.

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    1. Great Point. I always try to follow up and this one really peeked my interest.

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  3. I don't see any pictures of Gary Corporan on the internet. Why? How are people suppose to spot him?

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  4. Doris and Gary in Alaska 2011.

    https://scontent-b-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc3/281479_2033168142071_5326654_n.jpg

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  5. I say start at the prior DA who is the only one that is privy to grand jury documents. Why was it sealed? This was a great episode and scary at the same time.

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    1. Jacqueline,
      That IS a good place to start, with those who should have followed through or followed up. Did someone simply drop the ball or was it a cover up? I'm looking forward to the start of Season 2 next weekend. I love this show!

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  6. I grew up in this part of Texas, and what Kelly Siegler said is true, rumors and innuendo go 'round and 'round. But the other thing is that many things get swept under the proverbial rug. The "good ol' boy" network is still thriving in these small towns. Somebody always knows something on someone. Death, mischief, mayhem all run amok in these protected little enclaves. I know people from my hometown who systematically avoided prosecution because one of their family members taught them all how to beat an FBI polygraph test. Regardless that they'd all been involved in something that got the FBI interested in them in the first place - in tiny tiny small-town Texas. It's not hard to imagine how someone like Corporon got away with murder. And trust me he still works overseas, his wife is still as daffy and I assume the entire family that surrounds them knows the situation. Scary? Yep. Is he a danger? I don't know, but it makes me wonder how I'll respond to him the next time I'm invited to a family get together and he's there.

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    1. Anonymous (1/4 @ 12:17) ,
      Thank you for posting. Very interesting take from somebody local to the area. There are so many things that I just don't get with this story! How could something like this happen? Is he still out "on bail"? How can an entire murder indictment get pushed to the back burner? Smells like a cover up and there is no excuse for the way this case was handled. Thanks for sharing your insight.

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  7. How did he get the $100,000 insurance money while he was still under indictment?

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  8. Any further updates on this case? I've been searching and found nothing. Rumor has it now that the State Attorney's office is there this week investigating not only the DA's Office but the District Clerk's Office as well that should have had record of the indictment.

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