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The Chief, the Scotsman, the Swindler, and the Killer

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"They conspire. They conspire to lock me up for something I didn't do," Milano says. "The laws of the state of Texas say that criminal conspiracy is a crime. It's a fucking crime."

Horvath and Stephens, however, both maintain they did nothing improper--nothing beyond rekindling the investigation of the Coleman murder, which both men say there is good reason to believe Milano committed.

In February of this year, Horvath flew to London to testify for the Austin defense team, his trip partially bankrolled with $4,000 given to him by the Austin defense team. The City of DeSoto also paid for part of Horvath's trip so he could interview possible witnesses in the Coleman killing.

The chief took along his wife and children--at his own expense, he says--and combined his official travel with some vacation time.

The presence of Horvath's family on the trip has raised a small ruckus in DeSoto, and left Stephens feeling a bit defensive about allegations that the Austin defense team helped the chief land a London vacation trip.

"He took his family to London, which given the circumstances is something you would have done," Stephens says. "I mean, if you've got a couple of kids and you live in east-Jesus-nowhere-DeSoto-Texas, and you got the opportunity to take them to London and give them an education, a little bit of a break, don't you think you'd try it?"

But Horvath's trip to England has fueled more controversy than just the presence of his family. Right before Horvath left for England, Milano obtained an order from a Dallas County District Court judge directing that all records of his arrest in the Coleman killing be expunged.

By law, any paperwork that indicated Milano was arrested in the case was supposed to be removed from DeSoto police files and either destroyed or turned over to the Dallas County District Clerk's office.

When he got on the plane to London, Horvath acknowledges, he was carrying some files related to the Coleman case. That makes sense, since the purpose of his trip was to testify about Milano at the Austin murder trial. Horvath says he cannot remember if the documents he took contained any records that should have been destroyed under the expunction order. But even if they did, he says, the expunction order had not been formally served upon him before he left town. And anyway, he adds, "I'm not sure a Texas expunction order has any jurisdiction in Great Britain."

When he got to the trial, Horvath was unable to say much about Milano, or raise any questions about the Coleman killing. The trial judge in the case would only allow Horvath to state whether he considered Milano to be a credible person. After answering "no," Horvath's brief testimony was concluded.

Upon his return, Horvath claimed that the trip unveiled vital new information in the Coleman killing. In a letter to DeSoto City Manager Ron Holifield providing details of the $472.65 of city money he had spent during the trip, Horvath explained that "the information and momentum on the 1989 murder that was gained...will create the situation to possibly clear the offense."

As far as Horvath is concerned, he says, there is no other "viable suspect" in the Coleman killing besides Milano. Lou Stephens, the private investigator, gave DeSoto police "boxes" of information that will help build the case against Milano, Horvath says, and it is now only a matter of time before Milano pays his dues.

But more than a year after Stephens first began providing Horvath with "new evidence" in the Coleman killing, the case remains uncleared.

Milano remains in a hellish limbo, unable to clear his name of a murder he has never been formally charged with committing. He is awaiting the outcome of the Dallas District Attorney's office investigation of his complaint against Horvath. (Assistant DA Mike Gillett says it's routine for his office to conduct an inquiry into such complaints.)

Milano says he is also considering filing criminal charges against Horvath, or pursuing civil action for violation of his civil rights.

"You have to understand this is very distasteful to me," Milano says. "I'm sick and tired of people calling me a thief, a liar, a con man, a cheat, a child molester. If I'm any of those things, fucking arrest me. Arrest me. If I'm any of those things, why haven't I fled the country and sought sanctuary in New Zealand, where they don't have extradition treaties with the United States?"

In addition to his personal hell, Milano says, Horvath's continued quest to jail him may make it impossible for police to prosecute Coleman's real killer.

Former DeSoto police Lieutenant Pothen says that by opening up investigative files to outsiders, dragging files off to Europe and forming his alliance with the English defense lawyers, Horvath may have fatally contaminated evidence gathered in the case.

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David Pasztor

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