A Dallas homicide detective who accused a colleague of hiring hitmen for two murders is being investigated for mishandling the capital murder cases.
Detective Esteban Montenegro led an investigation into the 2017 killings of Lisa Saenz and missing Albert Douglas that led to the accusation of patrol officer Bryan Riser.
Riser was arrested in March 2021 and fired by the Dallas Police Department, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Due to insufficient evidence, Riser was released from jail in April 2021. He then made a move to appeal his firing.
According to court records obtained by the DMN, the Dallas Police Department filed three cases against Detective Montenegro on behalf of former officer Riser. A grand jury will decide whether he should face charges.
During a hearing to determine whether there was enough evidence to take the case to a grand jury, Montenegro testified that he mistakenly wrote untrue information in an arrest warrant affidavit that led to Riser’s arrest.
Per the DMN, Montenegro wrote in the affidavit that cellphone data placed Riser in or around the area where victims Saenz and Douglas disappeared; however, that was not the case, as Montenegro reportedly admitted.
Three suspects -– Emmanuel Kilpatrick, Jermon Simmons, and Kevin Kidd -– were arrested on capital murder charges in Saenz’s death. According to Montenegro’s statement in an affidavit, Kilpatrick told police in 2019 that Riser, who Kilpatrick had gone to high school with, paid him and others $3,500 to kill Saenz and Douglas.
Montenegro said that he wrote Kilpatrick’s claim in a “working document” but accidentally put it into the final arrest affidavit; “That was a cut-and-paste mistake that I made,” he said.
Montenegro testified in his 2021 hearing that Kilpatrick’s claims were solely what led him to connect Riser to the disappearance of Douglas, who has not been found to date.
Prosecutors say no evidence corroborates Kilpatrick’s claim that Riser asked him and the two other men to kill Saenz and Douglas.
Per the DMN, Montenegro’s testimony at the hearing seemed to contradict claims he made at a September 2017 federal court hearing for Riser. During the 2017 hearing, which was held in regards to drug charges against Riser, federal prosecutors argued Riser was dangerous and should be detained, pointing to the recent murder of Saenz, who had been living with Riser when she died.
During his 2021 hearing, Montenegro denied connecting Riser to the killing in 2017, though allegedly, his words in the 2017 hearing contradict this statement. Montenegro said in 2021 that he did not remember making the 2017 comments. He said he did speak to Riser while tracking down leads but did not suspect in 2017 that Riser was involved in the murder.
Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia has promised to investigate Riser’s link to the murders.