Saturday, February 27, 2016

Paul Motard

My first "official" foray into the world of Criminal Justice was my Junior year at Texas A&M when I got an academic internship at the Brazos County District Attorney's Office in April of 1994.  I started working there after my dad had happened to bump into Bill Turner, the elected D.A. back then, and told him that I was really interested in becoming a prosecutor.  Bill offered me an internship with the office and put me under the supervision of his one and only D.A. Investigator,  retired HPD Homicide investigator Gil Schultz.

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:

      VICTIM:  Abel
      SUSPECT:  Cain
      WITNESSES:  Adam & Eve
      WEAPON: Rock

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.

Congratulations, Paul!


broberts said...

Awesome post Murray. Paul Motard is and always will be an ICON. I had the privilege of working with him for several years and am so thankful to have had that privilege. Thanks for all you've done & accomplished all these years Paul. - Bobby Roberts

broberts said...

Great post Murray. Paul Motard is and always will be an ICON for the Houston Police Department's Homicide Division. I considered it an honor and a privilege to have worked there with him for seven years. Thanks Paul for all you've done & the lives you've affected over your career. Be blessed... - Bobby Roberts

Unknown said...

Excellent article Murray. Paul is a class act and a great investigator. I enjoyed being around him in Homicide. He always offered advice when asked and was never critical. He just offered up more effective ways to get the job done. Congratulations for a job well done. Enjoy your retirement Paul.

Paul Motard said...


Thank you for your gracious and generous treatment of my time in Homicide Division these many years. I have truly been blessed and yes, it was a privilege to partner with one of the great ones, Gil Schultz. Of course, you know him as well as I do, but one thing I do remember about him was this calmness to his personality that no matter what situation we were in, he projected confidence that seemed to calm me and everyone around us. And believe me, we were in many a “situation”.

It was also a privilege to work in the same division as Roger and Bobby. As long as I was in Homicide I admired their work ethic and determination to bring a case to resolution. It is a tragedy that in the modern era, HPD and Homicide does not make a more serious effort to foster an environment that guys like Roger and Bobby will stay in the division. They too can be considered some of the “great ones” that have come through the Homicide Division.

Paul Motard