HOUSTON (FOX 26) — Within the space of just two days, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has been caught in a public relations crossfire with critics on the right claiming she's too soft on criminals and progressive forces on the left saying the opposite.
Item one: felony arson suspect Jimmy Klayton Lauder, who is accused of dousing his northwest Houston home with gasoline in a drunken rage and setting it on fire as his wife and two small children hid on an upper floor
"I do believe he did try to kill them," said Tessie Fraysur, Lauder's mother-in-law. "There's not a doubt in my mind."
Fraysur also said Ogg's prosecutors proposed offering Lauder probation without jail time for a crime she considers attempted murder of her daughter and grandchildren.
Dane Schiller, a spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney's Office, responded by telling FOX 26 News, "No plea agreement has been offered, nor any decisions been made regarding possible punishment."
Fraysur demanded prison for the father of her grandchildren, at least five years worth.
"That's the only way they are going to learn," said Fraysur. "If you just give them probation, you are enabling them."
The accusation of negligent lenience toward dangerous criminals comes as Ogg faces fire from one-time allies on the political left who call her $20 million a year request for 102 additional prosecutors a surefire prescription for filling an overcrowded jail with poor people.
"To add more prosecutors has the effect of more prosecutions, more convictions, more people in jail," said Natalia Cornelio, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project. "That can't be. If we are serious about public safety, we will invest in mental health resources, other educational services, other public health services, jobs and housing. It's that simple."
Ogg told FOX 26 News that her prosecutors are grossly overburdened with some contending with triple the recommended caseload. She said if Harris County leaders want improved safety and better outcomes as they pledged to voters, they must “put some money where their mouth is.”