Alabama-Coushatta reservation refuses to release homicide arrest documents

Alabama-Coushatta reservation refuses to release homicide arrest documents
Spencer Sadler (Source: Facebook)
Spencer Sadler (Source: Facebook)

POLK COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Alabama-Coushatta officials have refused to release the arrest affidavit in connection to a homicide that took place on their Polk County reservation in mid-April.

According to a tribe press release, their police department was dispatched to a home on the reservation on the morning of April 17 and began a homicide investigation in the death of Spencer Sadler, 28, of Livingston.

KTRE sent an open records request for an arrest affidavit for Matt Battise to Tribal Judge Dana Williams on April 21.  Battise is the suspect who was taken into custody of the San Jacinto County jail on an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge in connection with the homicide.

Williams said three weeks ago the tribe would not release the information because the reservation is exempt from following the laws of the Freedom of Information Act.

"Our attorneys said we don't have to give that out," Williams said.

Alabama-Coushatta attorney Chuck McDonald said the investigation is complete and has been sent off to the US Attorney General's Office.

"On the tribal end, the investigation has been turned over the the US Attorney General's Office. They must decide on moving forward by federal prosecutors," McDonald said.

McDonald said that Battise has been charged with the highest level offense that tribe officials are legally allowed to charge people with.

"We do believe it is being handled efficiently. We are proceeding in a fashion that will prosecute the case," McDonald said.

Representatives with the US Attorney's Office said any information requested will not be available until Battise is indicted by a federal prosecutor.

KTRE has also sent an open records request for Sadler's autopsy to Justice of the Peace Larry Whitworth. Whitworth is appealing the request to the Texas Attorney General's Office.

Battise is being held with no bond and has an FBI hold on his file.

Over a month after the homicide, no official information on exactly when, why, how, or what happened leading up to Sadler's death and Battise's arrest has been released.

"We don't know why. There's no reasoning,"  said Debra Sadler, Spencer's mother during an interview on April 19. Sadler's parent's said that his body was nearly unrecognizable upon identity.

Arrest affidavits issued outside tribal lands are public record and KTRE makes a normal practice of obtaining them to report details of crimes and the evidence used in making arrests.

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