Questions about Texas legal procedure in a fictional criminal
case. This is for a novel. Takes place about 1990, in the county seat of a mostly rural and small-town east- central- Texas county. A man, very drunk, is shooting up tombstones at the cemetery at night, on what happens to be Confederate Memorial Day (April 26), though he doesn’t know it.
The shooting attracts two out- of- uniform sheriff’s deputies who have been honoring the day with other members of an organization and think at a distance that the gunshots are firecrackers being set off at a Confederate Monument in the cemetery by others of their group. The two realize on the drive over that they are hearing gunshots but still believe the shooter(s) to be member(s) of their group. Deputy A, however, who has his pistol in his truck, takes it with him when he gets out, and, as the two men make their way across the in-town cemetery, Deputy A fires a shot into the ground to warn shooter(s) that they are being approached. It’s dark, with possibly dim ambient light from streetlights.
When the two deputies get close enough to see and be seen, the very drunk shooter turns and—as he will later say and the angle of his fire will support—accidentally shoots Deputy A, breaking his leg. Deputy A manages not to bleed to death, while Deputy B is unwisely tackling the drunken shooter. Deputy A to hospital, shooter to jail, Deputy B the only witness.
Cut to the case. Prosecutor, responsive to sheriff’s department’s inclination to protect their guys, will charge shooter with aggravated assault of a law officer, but to prove that, prosecution will have to prove that shooter knew the two men were law officers, right? Shooter was slightly acquainted with the two men, but defense will argue darkness and drunkenness, which they will have blood- test evidence of, since family member of shooter—lawyer in civil practice—has the wit to order it that night.
Shooter, who has suffered an alcoholic blackout but, when cued, recovers some memory, will maintain he did not intend to shoot a man and had no knowledge that the two men were law officers. He will maintain he didn’t hear the warning shot or mistook it for echo. Situation is complicated by the fact that shooter and Deputy A have expressed dislike for each other in public; there are several witnesses to that, some of whom, being friends of the deputies, may exaggerate.
Defense will petition immediately to depose Deputy A while still in the hospital—on grounds that his appearance in court
can’t be guaranteed—and, surprisingly, the petition will be granted. Defense will do this because he is afraid the deputies will collude to say they did identify themselves as they approached the shooter. Deputy A will admit that he did not. He and Deputy B might change their story later.
Questions. (1) When will Prosecution see the deposition? (2) What will Prosecution—under pressure from the sheriff’s department-- do if the case begins to look weak that shooter knew the two men were law officers? (3) If Prosecution reduces the charges to aggravated assault, which would seem to be a virtually automatic conviction, when will they do it? (4) Could they go to trial
on the original charge and reduce it during the trial? (I’m assuming sheriff’s department will oppose a plea bargain and want a jury trial.Is this wrong?) Obviously, I don’t know how reducing the charges works. (4) What happens if Prosecution does not reduce the charges to aggravated assault and the jury believes the Defense that shooter did not recognize the two men as law officers?
(5) For purposes of the novel, shooter needs to serve some serious prison time whatever happens—I hope at least 15 years. Does that sound right under the circumstances described by your replies 1-4?