The Wichita County court system is filled to the brim with felony cases waiting to be resolved, and some Texomans are frustrated with how long the process takes.
If the defendants are out on bond, their cases can often take much longer to resolve that those who remain in jail awaiting trial.
George and Beverly Spires have already been in court multiple times trying to get some kind of closure after they say an employee and family friend of theirs embezzled more than $300,000 from their business.
George Spires said he and his wife gathered all the evidence he thinks is needed to prove that Katherine Michelle Urioste stole from their landscaping company.
“We discovered by going to the bank that Michelle Urioste had embezzled a large amount of money, which continues to grow as time goes on,” George said. “There’s more evidence that just keeps coming in all the time.”
Spires said this whole process started 14 months ago, and they’ve been in and out of the courts multiple times since then, but with no results.
“This is our fifth time to meet in court in relationship to her case and she has walked through with a smile and a smirk on her face like, ‘Ha, I’m in control here.'” he said.
The latest hearing last week was postponed for family issues of the defendant.
George said Urioste worked as the main secretary for his business, but was also considered a friend of the family’s.
“She became very good friends with Beverly, my wife,” he said. “Just eased her way in and by what we’ve been able to ascertain, used many, many, many different avenues to embezzle this money.”
Now, all they want is justice.
“No revocation, we know the money’s gone, that’s fine,” Beverly said. “We need a speedy justice system, which we don’t have in Wichita Falls. I understand there’s a backlog of criminals.”
30th District Court Judge Bob Brotherton said, unfortunately, cases like Urioste’s don’t take precedence.
“We’re required by law to give precedence to people who are charged with a crime, and within that group, those who are in jail and can’t make bail,” the judge said.
Urioste is out on bond, but that doesn’t make the Spires any less anxious for closure on this case.
“Instead of being able to retire, I’m going to have to work until the day I die,” George said.
Judge Brotherton said each court has 300 to 400 new felony cases pending currently, and the 89th District Court where Urioste’s case is being heard has specially set court cases already scheduled through next fall, meaning it could be close to three years before they can put this case to rest.
This isn’t the first time Urioste is facing these type of charges.
She was placed on probation in 2012 for embezzling funds from Starline Pools where she was the business manager.
The owner said an audit showed more than $400,000 was stolen.
Then, a man who bought the company in 2008 told police he suspected Urioste stole more than $13,000 from him after he gave her signed blank checks.