State Agency Reimbursing Ward County Court Costs

Staff Report
NewsWest 9

WARD COUNTY - The trials of two men accused of sexually abusing inmates at a Ward County Juvenile Detention Center are over but the county is still paying the price.

The county was forced to pay for one of the men's defense and it cost a pretty penny, putting a strain on their resources.

Now a state agency is reimbursing Ward County nearly all of the money they spent on that trial.

Ray Brookins and John Paul Hernandez, both former administrators at the West Texas State School Juvenile Detention Facility in Pyote, were both accused of sexually abusing inmates six years ago.

Hernandez was found not guilty this past February but Brookins was found guilty in April of 2010 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Brookins was also indigent and he couldn't afford defense so the county was forced to pay more than $75,000 in Brookins' legal fees.

On Tuesday, the Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense paid the County back more than $66,000, which is 90 percent of what the county paid for Brookins.

Ward County officials said that much money out of their general fund has put major strain on their taxpayers.

"The citizens of Ward County paid an extremely high price for that. We lost the facility that was located here. We lost a lot of jobs associated with that facility. There are a lot of costs to the tax payers here," Ward County Judge, Greg Holly, said.

Ward County officials are also worried saying Brookins' sentence is now on appeal and that the tax payers will have to pay for that too.

No word yet on how much relief this payment will translate into.