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Texas prosecutor tosses charges in 1992 teen double slaying

Posted at 6:38 PM, Oct 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-17 19:38:13-04

WACO, Texas (AP) - A Texas man who was sentenced to life in prison for fatally shooting two teenagers in 1992 is a free man without pending charges after a district attorney dismissed the case.

Richard Bryan Kussmaul was convicted of capital murder in 1994 for killing 17-year-old Leslie Murphy and 14-year-old Stephen Neighbors in a mobile home near Moody, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Dallas. His conviction was vacated last year due to DNA evidence that cleared him of the deaths.

The McLennan County District Attorney's Office on Wednesday dismissed the charges, citing "passage of time," testimony retractions from Kussmaul's three co-defendants and improvements in DNA technology, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported.

The DA on Wednesday also dismissed charges against James Edward Long, Michael Dewayne Shelton and James Wayne Pitts Jr., who were convicted of sexual assault at the time of the attack on Murphy and sentenced to 20 years. Long and Pitts have both been released after serving their full sentences. Shelton won parole after serving 17 years.

Kussmaul, who has been free on bond since April, has been living with his sister in Moody and looking for work.

"I am trying to move on, but I have lost everything," Kussmaul said. "They are not focusing on who might have actually did this crime. ... It has ruined my life and the lives of the other three guys, and there is a murderer running loose out there somewhere."

Assistant District Attorney Nelson Barnes said he intends to refer the murder case to the McLennan County Sheriff's Office cold case unit for further investigation.