State dismisses perjury charges against Lufkin counselors

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Holley Nees - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The state has dismissed its case against two Lufkin counselors who were charged with perjury.

District Judge Paul White said Friday morning that he had signed an order of dismissal after the state had moved to dismiss the case.

Juanda Carroll Morgan, 61, and Mark Alan Sutton, 58, both of Pollok, are married licensed professional counselors and run a practice in Lufkin. They went on trial for aggravated perjury in Dec. 2009, which ended with a hung jury.

They were charged following Morgan's testimony in a child custody hearing, in which she said Mike Shelfo yelled at her in a previous conversation. Shelfo then produced a taped recording of the conversation which prosecutors said showed he did not yell at her.

The couple's defense team argued that the tape was not the original and had been tampered with. They also questioned the defense's choice of an expert witness, who was Lee Miller, of MSG Public Relations in Lufkin.

"Ultimately, the basic belief I have that the truth will win out, the truth will be the priority, that did turn out to be the case," Morgan said in an interview Friday.

Sutton says he's now leery of people recording during sessions.

"Normally it wouldn't bother me at all to be recorded, it's just that when they found 43 edit points on this tape by electronic analysis, they found 17 and a half minutes of it missing," Sutton said.

"It's life-changing, it truly is," Morgan said. "I have had some attitudes change. For one thing, I'm guilty of in the past thinking if someone was indicted probably means they did something wrong and I will never think that about a person again."

Following the mistrial, the state sent the tape to another expert, one the defense agreed on, Charanza said.

"We recognized him as the expert in the field and felt he has what was necessary to analyze it," Charanza said.

District Attorney Clyde Herrington is out of town and not immediately available for comment.

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