McLennan County DA dismisses murder charge against suspect in drug deal killing who spent more than 600 days in jail

Incarceration cost McLennan County taxpayers $49,440
Brendon Leosha Riggs has been jailed 618 days and had been set for trial Nov. 14. He has no...
Brendon Leosha Riggs has been jailed 618 days and had been set for trial Nov. 14. He has no other charges pending against him in McLennan County and should be released from jail as soon as the dismissal is processed, officials said.(KWTX)
Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 1:30 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The McLennan County District Attorney’s Office dismissed a murder charge Tuesday against a Coleman County man in a September 2021 incident that Waco police say was initiated by a drug deal.

First Assistant District Attorney Sharon Pruitt filed a motion to dismiss the murder charge against Brendon Leosha Riggs, who had been charged in the shooting death of Kaden Hitchcock at Hitchcock’s residence in the 300 block of Wagon Wheel Circle.

In dismissing the case, Pruitt noted the evidence against Riggs is insufficient at this time and that further investigation and DNA lab analysis are pending.

Riggs, 21, has been jailed 618 days and had been set for trial Nov. 14. He has no other charges pending against him in McLennan County and should be released from jail as soon as the dismissal is processed, officials said. At $80 a day, Riggs’ incarceration cost McLennan County $49,440.

Riggs’ case is the fourth outright dismissal of charges by the McLennan County DA’s office against a murder or capital murder defendant in the past year. During that same time, five capital murder or murder defendants have pleaded guilty to reduced charges in plea bargains offered by the DA’s office.

District Attorney Barry Johnson, who leaves office in January, said he is hopeful that Riggs can be indicted again after the forensic analysis of hair samples is completed. Johnson said he could have “kicked the can down the road,” passed the case and left it for his successor to deal with. However, he said he didn’t think that would be fair and maintains hope the case still can be prosecuted.

Waco police initially arrested Riggs on capital murder charges. Two other men charged with capital murder as Riggs’ co-defendants in the murder, Jose A. Herrera and Kyle Eric Depolito, were no-billed by a grand jury in January 2021.

Austin attorney Jon Evans, who represented Riggs with Waco attorney John Donahue, declined comment Tuesday on the dismissal.

Hitchcock was shot once in the head in what police have called a drug-related incident.

According to arrest affidavits, Herrera and Depolito told police they went to Hitchcock’s residence to buy drugs. There were several guns lying on his bed when they arrived, the records state.

Hitchcock’s roommates reported they saw Depolito and two other men in Hitchcock’s room before the roommates went to bed about 3 a.m.

During the reported drug transaction between Hitchcock and the three men, a 9 mm pistol disappeared, and Hitchcock accused them of taking

It, according to the affidavits. The missing gun sparked a heated dispute, affidavits state.

When police responded to the residence, several guns were missing and they found a single spent 9 mm shell casing, the affidavits state.

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