For the next two and a half years (right up until I left to go to law school in Houston), I worked for Bill and Gil. Gil became like a second dad to me and he took me to crime scenes, autopsies, witness interviews, and trials. He told me war stories about his days with HPD -- a career where he served ten years in patrol before serving sixteen in homicide. Whenever Gil talked about his days in Homicide, he would talk about his old partner, Paul Motard.
They had worked on the infamous case profiled in Daddy's Girl and Cold Kill together, as well as countless others. Gil, who redefined the term "outgoing personality," described Motard as much quieter and more straight-laced than Gil was, but as a phenomenal investigator.
Gil and I would come down to Houston every couple of months for one reason or another. He even took me apartment hunting when I moved here for law school, because he was worried I'd move to a dangerous part of town. Every time we came to Houston, I'd ask him when was he going to introduce me to this Paul Motard guy.
For two and a half years straight, I never met Motard. Every time we'd come to Houston, he was either out of town or in the middle of an investigation. I began to think that he was a figment of Gil's imagination.
I came to Houston for law school in August of 1996 and started at the Harris County District Attorney's Office in August of 1999. I worked there for about three years before attaining the rank of Felony Two, which is when a prosecutor finally gets to start trying murder cases. I had been trying murder cases for a couple of years when I moved to the 185th District Court under Judge Susan Brown.
Judge Brown's court is a very "high trial" court, and there were plenty of great murder cases waiting for me when I arrived. One of the cases was the high profile murder of a TSU student on campus, and the other involved two murders that had occurred around the Roadrunner and Red Carpet Inn. The investigators on the cases were C.P. "Abby" Abbondandolo and the elusive Paul Motard.
I had worked on several murder cases with some great homicide cops prior to getting to work with Abby and Motard, but these two set a new standard for me. The amount of detail and work they put into their cases was extraordinary. On the TSU case, the case had initially been handled by another law enforcement agency that had alienated almost all of the witnesses at the scene. When Abby and Motard came in, they had the difficult task of reestablishing trust with those witnesses and tracking down a killer who had ended the life of a completely innocent victim. They did so with ease.
They were able to develop enough leads to track down the shooter's cousin, who led them to the shooter. He was identified and a very solid case was built. However, it wasn't solid enough for Motard and Abby. The one thing that they had not gotten was a confession -- the suspect had invoked his right to an attorney. Despite the fact that I didn't need a confession because of the great work they had done, Motard and Abby kept telling me "next time we'll bring you a better case." That was just their standard and work ethic.
These guys were Old School Homicide cops, and damn, they were good at what they did.
Abby retired a few years ago and moved out of state. I got to work with him on a couple of episodes of Cold Justice last year, and he is still just as awesome as he ever was.
But getting to try those cases with Motard felt like I had come full circle. With as close as Gil and I were, I was so excited to be able to tell him I tried some cases with his old partner. It was a great experience and I'm very honored to say that I tried cases with a guy who is truly a legend of HPD Homicide.
Paul Motard retired this week. He'd been a cop since 1974. I believe that 36 of those years were in Homicide. At his party, the guys from Homicide gave him his "field notes" from his first case. It was a stone tablet engraved with the words:
WITNESSES: Adam & Eve
A lot of the legendary names from the Homicide Division's past came to wish Paul well, including old Gil. It was a great time, and I was happy to be invited to attend.
Back when I was interning for Gil, he told me that I had to get out of Brazos County and go work in Houston. Harris County had the best prosecutors, defense attorneys, and cops in the country. He was right about that. And one of those best cops finally took a very well-deserved retirement.