Shawn Dick ousts Jana Duty as Wilco DA

Updated March 02, 2016

With all but a small portion of the votes counted early Wednesday morning, defense attorney Shawn Dick had defeated incumbent Jana Duty in the Republican primary for Williamson County district attorney.

Since there is no Democratic opponent in the race, Shawn Dick will be Williamson County’s next district attorney.

Dick led with 30,773 votes, or 56 percent, while Duty had 24,244 votes, or 44 percent, according to the county’s website.

“I’ve gotten a lot of energy and support, and the numbers reflect what I was seeing on the campaign trail,” Dick said Tuesday night while watching the election night returns with a group of jubilant supporters at the Teravista Golf Club.

Duty did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.

The votes from three voting machines — representing a small portion of voters — in Taylor, Hutto and Cedar Park will have to be counted Wednesday morning, said Connie Watson, a county spokeswoman. There was trouble getting the data out of the machine so officials have to unlock the devices to get the backup reports out of them, Watson said. Officials don’t have access to the machines until local authorities unlock the buildings where they are stored, she said.

The race was contentious. Duty has sent out fliers calling Dick a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and saying he has defended hundreds of people charged with felonies and had also represented illegal immigrants who committed crimes and were fighting deportation.

Dick said Tuesday night that Duty’s fliers were “desperate.” He said his supporters understood he was just doing his job as a defense attorney. Dick said his fliers did not attack Duty.

Dick and Duty debated each other in public three times, including one in which he criticized her for going to jail after she violated a gag order on the Crispin Harmel murder case.

Duty then refused to show up for any more debates after a judge ruled she couldn’t comment about the Harmel case during the public appearances.

Duty was elected in 2012 after defeating then-District Attorney John Bradley. She spent five days in jail in 2015 after she violated a gag order in the Harmel case when she talked to a reporter. Harmel has been accused of strangling Jessika Kalaher in Cedar Park in 2009 after following her out of a Walmart.

His first trial was declared a mistrial and prosecutors are waiting for a ruling by an appeals court about whether he can be retried.

Dick is a former prosecutor for both Harris County and the Williamson County district attorney’s offices. He opened a private criminal defense practice in Georgetown in 2005.

During his campaign, he pledged to restore “integrity and professionalism” to the district attorney’s office.