Emotional Testimony

Houston Banker James “Dan” Rollins III offered emotional testimony Tuesday about his attempts to rescue Francesca “Frankie” Casseb who drowned Aug. 12, 2007 at his Lake McQueeney vacation home.

SEGUIN — A judge ruled Tuesday there was no evidence of wrongdoing or a cover-up on the part of 25th Judicial District Attorney Heather McMinn or Sheriff Arnold Zwicke in connection with Francesca “Frankie” Casseb’s 2007 drowning death, adding there was insufficient probable cause to believe the man who put her in the Guadalupe River was reckless or negligent.

Senior State District Judge Doug Shaver issued the rulings at the close of two days of hearing evidence in a court of inquiry that included emotional and tearful testimony by James “Dan” Rollins III and his daughter Kristin, who were the last people to see Casseb, 12, alive as she struggled while pinned to a tree by fast current in the Guadalupe River below Lake Dunlap dam.

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(20) comments

Wow. Good to know we still have a judge here in Guadalupe County with good judgment.

pilotrancher

While I saw no reason to question the Sheriff's investigation, I did question Ms McMinns' role. The clear ruling by the outside judge from Houston brought in to preside
ends that for me. No reason not to accept the judgment.

PeggyH

A State District Judge decided the merits of the complaint. Judgment entered. Remember this the next time you step in front of a voting machine. Express yourself where it counts most. Let it go. End of story.

dealinfacts

I have deep sympathy for both families that had to go through this pain again. It's unfortunate that we have a county attorney who is so spiteful to make those families go through this. Shame on her and Ms. Finch, I guess if Ms. Finch would get elected, we could expect the same behavior as Kolb??? It also concerns me that Ms. Kolb's husband is running for District Judge, will he have the same behavior as his wife??
I agree with Zwicke, this was all about vindictive politics and at what cost--the two families pain and our tax dollars!!!!

ResponsibleGovernment

Looking at the press coverage, and haveing read the documents, we paid our $50, and they are still available in perpetutiy, there is a big difference in what was said under oath and what was said under oath just a year ago. I thought that was called purjury.

Maybe our Mr. Wiggins can work throught the pain and suffering of those County Employees who have been let go and lost their jobs for the same crimes.

A victory for the County and our Community - that Purjury goes uncontested and a Judge / Law Enforcment Officer remains in office. A puric victory for the Sheriff, Hollub/McMinn/Rollins - it is what it is.

Yes, move to our community, where there are the elites and the power hungry - get away with what you can and lie about the rest - my grandson's dvd Pirates of the Carabbean had a song with similar words,

Now its Pirates of the Guadalupe

mikeschick01

I have worked for all of the Guadalupe County employees involved in this case, and sadly I think Kolb needs to retire. She is the niceset lady, but I think her age is catching up with her. This is and was all about nasty politics...I am in no way a fan of Zwicke, but I trust the officers involved in this case. This was a horrible accident and all Kolb did was make BOTH families go through this nightmare all over again. What a waste of taxpayer money and time. Guadalupe County has sure been in the news alot lately and none of it has been good. Seguin is turning into a nasty little town, so glad I moved and moved my parents away also..

roni72

Mrs. Kolb was trying to help. Lets not forget that Heather Mc- what ever her last name is now, is in no way without a role in this whole thing. She should not have been there. I do not beleive for 1 moment that she was there to comfort the family, she was looking out for her high profile friend in case she needed something in the future. What a county we live in.... Its ok to bad mouth Wiggins, but not Mc Minn? What a piece of work you people are.

dealinfacts

I do NOT for one moment believe Mrs. Kolb was trying to help. Anyone who knows her history will understand what she is up to. And at what good, making these two families live this tragedy again all over. roni72....three investigations and all say nothing was done incorrectly. It has hurt Sheriff Zwicke and the rest of this county who has been through enough here lately. We have wasted enough money on Mrs. Kolb's witch hunts and it is time for her to do her job that we elected her to do as county attorney.

Herald Gollub

I doubt any of the people posting on here were one of the 20 non-participants in the courtroom during the court of inquiry. Let me tell you what I observed. On Monday, I sat behind Elizabeth Murray-Kolb, Kim DeLaGarza and Patricia Finch as they smiled and passed notes to one another during the proceedings. On Tuesday morning, Finch entered the courtroom and EMK greeted her by saying “Thank you for being here” as both walked into the hall and out of earshot to visit further. EMK was subpoenaed Tuesday morning to give testimony with orders from the judge DO NOT LEAVE THE COURTHOUSE. EMK had to be retrieved by sheriffs deputies as she had indeed left the courthouse and had gone to the Justice Center. While on the stand being grilled as to why she had brought forth unsubstantiated claims she asked the judge “Do I have to do this?” to which the judge replied sternly “Yes, you do.” She used Judge Peschel’s name no fewer than a dozen times to “pass the buck” as to why she proceeded the way she did. I never saw Peschel in the courtroom, even though he has been characterized as a major player in bringing forth the court of inquiry.
Here are a couple of excerpts from the December 8, 2011 press release:
“One investigation was launched by County Attorney Elizabeth Murray-Kolb after attorneys representing the victim's family approached her office.” “Murray-Kolb said she investigated because of the family's concerns and because, with McMinn being involved and a potential witness, her office is the one with authority to prosecute criminal cases in Guadalupe County that didn't have a potential conflict of interest.”
On the stand, EMK vehemently denied doing an investigation, saying she merely had an investigator take victims statements. You see, EMK was obviously informed that “Malfeasance in office is often grounds for a for cause removal of an elected official by statute or recall election.” "malfeasance is the doing of an act which an officer had no legal right to do at all and that when an officer, through ignorance, inattention, or malice, does that which they have no legal right to do at all, or acts without any authority whatsoever, or exceeds, ignores, or abuses their powers, they are guilty of malfeasance." (isn’t Wikipedia great?) Does this sound like it fits a misdemeanor prosecutor investigating a felony? I does to me.
Another quote from the December 8 press release was: Peschel said he found "substantial facts establishing probable cause" Houston resident James (Dan) Rollins, 53, "did recklessly cause the death of Francesca Casseb by placing (her) in the Guadalupe River when the water flow was higher than normal." In the court of inquiry Judge Shaver determined there was “insufficient evidence a crime had been committed.” What EMK had brought as “substantial facts” before Peschel was shown by the court to be documents from civil attorney Jimmy Parks trying to prove up a law suite-the validity of which was never investigated nor questioned by EMK nor Judge Peschel.
I of all people would be the first to relish in Heather McMinn being publicly embarrassed, but it will not be under false pretext. What is wrong is wrong and I don't mince words in saying so.
I have purposefully veiled my name in a way so that anyone can figure out who I am-in jest of those who hide their identity. My number is in the phone book for any joker who wants to debate this matter-BTW, I AM having calls logged by the phone company for anyone hoping to block their identity when calling.

Vincent Williams

I am afraid that Gollub is misinformed as to how the system works. My group and I got the deposition of Scott Humphreys and the police report. Humphrey states that Scott warned Rollins not to put the children in the water, that he, Humphrey, believed a crime had occurred, that Hollub said the child's parents did not wish to speak with them, not to tell them she was an attorney....Humphrey stated that he was told to "close the file" and on and on and on. There is crystal clear evidence that at best unethical behavior occurred and at worst malfeasance occurred. Whether or not it rose to the level of criminality was properly brought by Kolb to a "higher authority" being Judge Peschel. At that point it was all up to Judge Peschel and HE felt the need for the Inquiry. Let me repeat, once the information was given to the Judge, it was up to that judge whether or not to go forward. It is clear that the Hollubs and the Rollins are close but that is no reason to shoot Ms. Kolb, she did the right thing in the face of adversity and political preasure and I, for one, am proud of her. Regardless of whether or not the Court of Inquiry found no criminal behavior, the actions of the Sheriff's department and Ms. McMinn were very questionable and needed to be looked at. I guess our county judge would have loved to have a defense attorney submit his statement to the authorities but it wouldn't be appropriate now would it.
Finally, I thank Ms. Kolb for having the courage to bring these questions forward no matter how powerful the "actors" may be.

John Q Public

Well, I was there; I am nobody just a citizen and I wanted to see what went on. When I left I wanted to throw up. I have never felt so bad for anyone as I did the Casseb family and Elizabeth Murray-Kolb. The prosecutor, Ted Wilson, didn’t even bother to ask the question to Scott Humphries whether or not Heather McMinn told him not to tell the family that she was a lawyer? Why? Why didn’t he ask, if you watched you could figure it out. The three lawyers and Rollins acted like they were best friends. Money does talk. The exsheriff deputy TJ Scott was so clearly lying. Joey Casseb told how he swam against the current to get to the dock, TJ Scott said he picked him up on his jet ski. (that’s on record) I caught the lie or mistake if that is what you want to call it, why didn’t the prosecutor catch it? Of course TJ Scott wants to recant what he said about telling Mr. Rollins the water was too high, he works for Rollins, I am not a lawyer but I can figure that one out. Scott can’t say who he told but he told some people that the water was too high and unsafe and then in the next breath he said he might have taken his own daughter in the water and he has been instructed in water safety? Ms Casseb saw Scott talking to Rollins and he denies this and is not pressed on it. I heard Ms. Casseb ask the prosecutor why he was soft peddling everything. He gave her a lame excuse how those things were not important here. Hello!! This is what it was about, did the Sheriff investigate properly and did Heather McMinn miss represent herself. The Sheriff’s officers didn’t bother to find and check out the jet ski, they didn’t bother to find the life jacket that went floating by, they did look for the bathing suit top that was no longer on the child, but they investigated, REALLY?? That’s what you call investigating? The Casseb family left the trial, they said they couldn’t stay and see this miscarriage of justice going on. Mr. Rollins wants to throw all the attention on Elizabeth Murray-Kolb so he can get it off his back. Of course he didn’t set out to hurt the child, I don’t believe that for one moment, but he was reckless and careless in his judgment. He did put the child in danger and no matter how much he wants you to believe that this was political motivated and that it was not his fault, the truth is yes, it is his fault ,and yes he did want a lawyer handy.

TexasCowboy

Not sure what all you guys see but its crystal clear that Kolb and Finch cooked this whole thing up. I really feel sorry for the family and its just sad that this kind of thing is used for political gain and out of spite by Kolb and Finch. I think they are the lowest of low like the Rollins guy stated. Horrible accident and my prayers go out to the family. Also, am i the only one that notice that Heather was not even the DA or evening running for DA at this time. What did she possibly have to gain like some of you think? I sure that night was hectic and emotional and i certainly can understand how the family could be confused on who was present and why. But what's not confusing to me is why Kolb and Finch cooked this up 4 years later right before an election. Just SAD

Herald Gollub

Vincent, you were clearly NOT at the court of inquiry. If you were, you would know that McMinn said that she didn't tell the Casseb's she was an attorney as she didn't want them to think the Rollins family called her as representation. The Rollins family, in fact, didn't call her at all. I asked her to go to the scene as she had been a prosecutor for over two years and knew many of the people that would be there. Had I gone, do you think Mrs. Casseb would have cried on my shoulder? Do you think the dynamics/empathy between mothers would have been there? I think not. I'm thankful Heather went to help. The fact that Mrs. Casseb thought she was a grief counselor is testimony to what Heather had done that day. The thank you card (to McMinn) from Mrs. Casseb expressing her appreciation is also something that is difficult to discount. Dan Rollins rightly referred to her as an angel for what she did for he, his family and the Cassebs. Also, Mrs. Casseb's recollection of Heather saying she was a grief counselor came two years after the event when being questioned by her legal counsel. In fact, Mrs. Casseb said at the court of inquiry that her husband Eddie, not McMinn, told her that Heather was a grief counselor. If my daughter had died in such an accident, I would not be able to answer with any certainty the events that took place that day as I would not be in my right mind. Much less being able to recall two years or now nearly 5 years later. Jeremy Roy was at the scene and IS a grief counselor as I'm sure the Cassebs were told. Bernadette Casseb could not recall him being introduced as a grief counselor. Do you see how it could have been confused that McMinn was the counselor and not Roy? Just a theory, no proof as I am not an authority on the inner workings of a grief stricken mother.
Let's look at this from a different angle. For arguments sake, let's say McMinn DID say she was a grief counselor. It was a certainty at some point that an investigator would talk to the Cassebs (on the day or close to the day of the event). Could you not conclude it likely that at some point Mr. or Mrs. Casseb would refer to "grief counselor McMinn" at some time during the discussion? The investigator would immediately say "there is no grief counselor McMinn" and it would immediately be tracked to the source as to who made such an assertion. It is the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard.
As for a cover up. What alternative theory has been brought forth as to how Frankie Casseb died? Let me repeat myself, WHAT WAS COVERED UP? If you can create an alternative theory, please let me know. No one, including Kolb, has ever disputed the testimony of Kristin Rollins, Dan Rollins, Nicky Casseb and Joey Casseb as to how the accident occurred (they were the only witnesses). McMinn, at no time, was in the water with the body or even near the accident scene. Maybe mental telepathy allowed her to cover something up, you tell me.
As for any relationship between the Sheriff and the District Attorney, that was not cultivated until AFTER taking office in 2009-well after the accident. I was there, I know. I would say that the sheriff didn't even know my name in August 2007 much less owe us any favors.
At the inquiry, it came out that Eddie Casseb (in a very animated fashion) shouted from the balcony of the Rollins house that 'he nor his family wanted to talk to anyone.' I can believe it safe to say that McMinn forwarding to investigators that the Cassebs didn't want to speak to them that night was an understatement.
As far as Murray-Kolb bringing matters to the proper authority, that was also in question during the inquiry. The proper channel, as stated by attorney pro tem Ted Wilson, was to bring it to the attention of the District Attorney as she is the only one with felony jurisdiction. Kolb said she never considered doing that. Had she done so, it would have headed off a second investigation that we had to pay for. Judge Reed of San Antonio was already doing the investigation at the request of Judge Kirkendal after McMinn advised him of questions involving the case. Wilson was appalled that resources were being wasted on two separate investigations into the same issues. He could not believe that there was no knowledge by either party of the redundancy. BTW, the Reed investigation was started in July 2011, the Peschel/Kolb inquiry was started December 2011. He also asked Mrs. Kolb why she had not brought the case to the DPS special crimes unit which is designed to handle such cases. Our 12 year county attorney stated she didn't even know DPS had a special crimes unit. In other words, Mrs. Kolb should have exhausted these two avenues BEFORE resorting to a court of inquiry. The fact that she didn't shows incompetence.
Let's address TJ Scott. He testified that he never had a conversation with Dan Rollins questioning the safety of floating the river and in fact had floated the river with his own children. He stated he didn't know of the error in Humphrey's report until 2009 when an investigator for the civil suite showed up at his door. He said he immediately called the sheriff's office and asked that Humphrey's report be changed, amended or whatever needed to be done to correct it. He said he didn't know if anything was done with the matter as there was no follow up.
Of course, if you were at the inquiry, you would know all of this. It's funny how almost all of your questions were answered, you just weren't there to hear.
As for any disparity in depositions/statements/testimony, I believe Judge Shaver was more informed than any of us with regards to the details and made his ruling accordingly. If you think the judge is crooked, how about you go to his courtroom and tell him so. I wish you luck with that one.
There was a camera rolling throughout the course of the inquiry. If I can attain a copy of the video, I'll invite over any conspiracy theorists so we may put the matter to rest without question.
I noticed you didn't touch the connection I made between Kolb, DeLaGarza and Finch. This is without a doubt small town politics at its worst.

factseeker

Judge Shaver made his recommendation that there was no evidence of a cover up and no evidence of criminal activity. Herald Gollub is right. I was in that court room and it was obvious to everyone there that Kolb was just trying to cover her tail when she was on the stand. She name dropped so many people to pass the blame for this thing it was ridiculous. Vincent, explain to me how Rollins could have thought this was dangerous yet he put his daughter in the water multiple times before hand without any problem. At the end of the day this was a tragic accident.

Herald Gollub

John Q.
This was not a trial nor was there a prosecutor. That distinction was made repeatedly by the judge.
Now let me get this straight. You, nor Kolb agree that the attorney pro tem nor the judge drew the conclusion ya'll wanted. Have you forgotten that these men were the ones assigned to the case via the Kolb/Peschel request?
Kolb didn't like the findings of the sheriffs deputies. Kolb didn't like the findings of the Texas Rangers in reviewing the case. Kolb doesn't like the outcome of the court of inquiry. What's next? When will it stop for these families?
A neighbor to the Rollins' said that he allowed his kids to float the chute both before AND AFTER the tragic drowning. If Elizabeth really thinks doing so is wreckless endangerment, is she going to pursue charges against that neighbor? Putting his children in the water after knowing another child had drown seems a lot worse than doing so before you know the imminent danger. Oh yeah, he isn't friends with McMinn so he's safe from the Kolb/Finch wrath.
I believe the Cassebs left the courtroom not to return because as they put it, they didn't ask for a court of inquiry and they didn't want a court of inquiry. In fact, they refused to give statements until Mrs. Kolb represented that District Judge Peschel asked for them. Something Kolb later in testimony denied. Without those statements, Kolb was dead in the water

geo830

The Texas Rangers said no criminal charges, the Sheriff said no criminal charges, the Court of Inquiry Judge said No Cover up and No Charges....yet KOLB and FINCH say it's a criminal act? How much did this cost the County?

If this was not politically motivated why was Finch even there? If she was really passing notes and laughing with Kolb that's unbelievable.

Obviously Finch and Kolb are not able to determine what constitutes a criminal case! Do us a favor Finch drop out of the race. Save us all from 9 months of your dirty tricks.

ResponsibleGovernment

Herald Gollub, I suspect that you did not read any of the supporting documents for which the inquiry was initially requested. I on the other hand did.

One of my friends was in a conversation with interested parties at the Ski Lodge where Ms. McMinn was referred to as his attorney durning the incident a few years ago.

You wont find that kind of truth on the witness stand, "not in Guadalupe County, you wont" by the way, thats a quote for the Sheriff's deputy talking about whether there would be a criminal investigation or not in the death

I challenge you to find and confirm, trust but verify, just a few of the court room statements with what was said under oath without their boss - the sheriff sitting in the same room.

I asked KWED whether they read all the documets and they said they DID NOT KNOW. They just ran the story! I know the paper did because they quoted the documents.

I also call the state bar and they said it was an ethical violation to represent a potential defendant and also "assist in the investigation" as Ms McMinn testified to in court - I was there and heard her with my own ears

Ms Kolb is retiring and when the piranha's cant get through her thick skin they will turn to someone else, probably someone in the inner circle. My understanding is that the girls family and Ms. Kolb are now very good friends.

Although I did not hear all of the conversation, I wanted to do my on MP military police work to get the truth, and i heard them talking and laughing in the hall way and I HEARD the mother say she still felt that the system was just to strong and protective of the powers that be and nothing would be done. Well she was right.

I have been in combat a know what it is like to need someone or need help after being cut off.... I have also been cut off with jr officers tearing up becasue they were too scared to make it to my position.

I hope and pray you are never in that possition with the savage enemy everywhere, trying to kill you and no one comes to help because they are scared. Only God saved me, but people of faith are few and far between.

It takes a brave person to go against the grain and the conversation I saw in the hallway with the mother was anything but thankful.

SGT USMC.

I

ResponsibleGovernment

The conversation was all but thankful!

dealinfacts

Facts are facts, and if you that don't believe that Kolb-Murray and Finch were not doing all this for political purposes you must be blind and deaf. It truly sickens me that the Casseb and Rollins families have had to go through all this. And "Responsible Government" if you want to use that screen name then live by it and get your facts correct. Responsible government would be to not waste taxpayer money over and over for political malice. It is so, so sad and it concerns me that Kolb-Murray's husband is running for District Judge....how is he going to handle McMinn's cases in court. Thank goodness for jury trials.

Herald Gollub

Sorry folks, this post was taken down as I included “hearsay” from an assistant Guadalupe county attorney and Texas Ranger regarding what they witnessed. I have removed that portion but will be happy to shoot you an email in full if you ask. Once again, my number is in the phone book.

Judge Doug Shaver, you have been overruled by the 3rd 25th Judicial Court conveined over drinks at 225 Ski Lodge Road. Are you actually serious? The Ski Lodge is your source?
You are right about one thing. I didn’t look at the documents compiled by civil attorney Jimmy Parks. Perhaps you received your copy from Vicki Patillo as she was handing them out at the Gonzales County courthouse. For those that don’t know, Vicki Patillo lost re-election to McMinn and now offices with Murray-Kolb. Can anyone here tell me why, other than political reasons, she would be handing out copies of affidavits for the Casseb case in Gonzales County? Does it do anything to attain justice for Little Frankie Casseb or does it serve to slander the District Attorney? As came out at the court of inquiry, there were cherry picked excerpts from documents obtained from civil attorney Jimmy Parks who was trying to prove his law suit. We could ask Jimmy Parks personally about his involvement, but he passed away several weeks ago and is no longer available for questioning.
Judge Shaver ruled there was ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE OF A COVER UP. Do you think he looked at these files? I do, and I think he took them for what they were-nothing. Also, judges tend to choose there words wisely. To use the word ABSOLUTELY speaks volumes.
While under oath, EMK contended that she first learned of the drowning on Lake McQueeney by reading the newspaper. She said the article read “another case of people allowing children to go in flood waters without a life vest.” Sadly for Mrs. Kolb, Ted Wilson had a copy of the Seguin Gazette Enterprise from the day after the accident. She was certain she had read there was no life jacket yet could not find anything to substantiate her claims in the article. Can you say BUSTED!? Let’s just say she embellished a bit, just like she has been fast a loose with everything else in this case.
When asked by Mr. Wilson what criminal offense EMK believed took place, once again she could not answer the question. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Ted Wilson is the person the courts assigned at the request of Kolb/Peschel. Do you understand what this means? A court of inquiry reviews evidence to determine whether or not allegations of a criminal offense against a public official merit charges being filed. EMK could not cite the criminal offense for which this matter was brought before the court. She said I just brought you the documents given to me by Jimmy Parks and the two statements I obtained with my private investigator. I was leaving it up to the court of inquiry to decide what the crime would be. Once again, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? She thinks there was a crime, but DOESN’T KNOW WHAT IT IS!
Let’s touch a bit more on the statements which Kolb and her private investigator took from the Casseb’s. Kolb made herself very clear under oath that she nor her investigator did any investigation into the Casseb drowning as it would be overstepping the bounds of her office. Her investigator ONLY helped take the statements of Bernadette Casseb and her son. We as taxpayers reimbursed Mr. Alfaro (the PI) $2500 for helping take two witness statements. Does anyone else think this is a little high? Does anyone think this sounds more like what would be charged to do an investigation?
McMinns testimony under oath was that she indeed assisted deputies at the scene. She helped recover a deputy’s lost maglite. She also helped retrieve the trousers and gun belt (with gun) left on shore by the deputy who tried to free Frankie Casseb from the water. I’m not sure as to your definition of assisting in an investigation, but this doesn’t meet my threshold.
I’ve been regurgitating a lot of facts but I’ll give you an opinion based on fact. I heard many months ago that Patricia Finch thought her chances at election were about to look up given what she knew was about to come out-no doubt it was this court of inquiry. Primary elections are typically held the first week in March. Had this case not been fast tracked it most certainly wouldn’t have been heard until much later than the first week in March. No one predicted that we would also have redistricting going on and that the primary election will not be until May. I’m sure the Finch/Kolb camp were counting on the pending court of inquiry to create a cloud of controversy which could influence the outcome of the election (no doubt why Patillo was distributing the documents). That plan has certainly backfired.
If you see this as anything but dirty politics, you are a fool. Kevin Kolb used dirty politics against the late Edmund Kuempel. Hopefully voters will once again see through the Kolb’s old tricks. It is sad that two grieving families have been reluctantly forced into reliving the events of that tragic day.
Responsible Government, I also appreciate your service to our country but I don’t believe the Nazis, North Koreans, NVA, Taliban, Iraqi Army, or insurgents had anything to do with Frankie Casseb’s drowning or the subsequent investigation.

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