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Murder suspects sit in Hays County Jail for years at a time

Lamount Harvey has been behind bars for six years with no trial date in sight. His wife said he's innocent and that their kids are suffering without their father.

HAYS COUNTY, Texas — It has been almost six years since Lamount Harvey was charged with capital murder. Still, no trial date has been set. That has made life hard for Harvey’s wife, Tracey.

The delay has Tracey questioning whether someone is still innocent until proven guilty.

“We have a 7-year-old son, so he left when he was about six months old. So it’s changed everything with all our kids and the way the whole family worked,” said Tracey. “It’s not even fair for people to be held this long when it’s not even proven that they’re guilty.”

Tracey said her nightmare began in 2015. She said Harvey was with a group of people in San Marcos, at an apartment complex, and someone else pulled the trigger during a drug deal.

“Two years later, they came back and charged him because the guy that actually did the shooting said that he knew what was going on,” she said.

Harvey was charged with capital murder in 2017. 

RELATED: Hays County commissioners approve wage increases for corrections, law enforcement officers

Tracey believes he is innocent. She said he pleaded not guilty in 2017. With Harvey being gone, she said her three kids are suffering.

“They miss him, he does video calls with them every day, the 7-year-old has grown up without him,” she said.

Harvey’s long stay in the Hays County Jail is not unique. The county has more than a dozen murder cases pending, one since 2015 — that’s seven years.

KVUE looked at the four biggest counties in Central Texas, and when it came to murder cases pending since 2019 or before, Hays County had 15 cases, Travis County had seven, Williamson County had five and Bastrop County had two. 

Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra said the Hays County justice system is moving too slow for all criminal court cases, not just murders.

“Historically, let’s go past our COVID, and before COVID happened, we had this type of pattern of moving slow and not being effective with the handling of our residents," Becerra said.

Becerra said he’s using his power over the County’s purse strings to move the justice system faster.

“I’m supporting it by giving all the different district judges, county court at law judges and all the other components, the DA's office, even the jail, I’m giving them all that they ask for, to support them so there are no monetary excuses, to why things are being held up," he said.

RELATED: Hays County commits millions to outsourcing inmates to a private detention center

KVUE also spoke to Hays County District Attorney Wes Mau about the problem.

“It goes back to the number of cases that we have and the resources that we have available to process those cases,” Mau said.

Over the years, Mau said he has requested more prosecutors to help but has not gotten as many as he wanted. He also said the County will be getting a new court to help.

“As of Sept. 1, there will be a new district court, that’s going to be going in operation as soon as the governor appoints a judge, and it’s funded to begin operations, I expect that to happen at the beginning of the year,” he said.

Systemic changes take time, and that’s something Tracey Harvey said her kids won’t get back.

“Everyone says you're innocent before proven guilty, but it’s more like you’re guilty no matter what," she said.

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