The Silent Witness

One potential witness, Roy Rose, never made it to the courtroom.

When the trial began, prosecutors sought to call Roy Rose -- Springsteen's friend from West Virginia -- to testify that Springsteen had bragged to Rose about committing the 1991 murders. APD detectives interrogated Rose on Sept. 16, 1999. After nearly three hours, Rose signed a statement saying Springsteen had told him details of his involvement in the crime.

Just six hours later, Rose recanted. He did so officially, in a letter presented to the Travis County grand jury in 1999, in which he said the APD detectives had coerced him into making the statement against Springsteen. Rose suffers from diabetes, cancer, and fibromyalgia, and said he was heavily medicated on a narcotic painkiller at the time the detectives interviewed him. Under Texas law, a witness can face felony perjury charges if he testifies in front of a jury and that testimony is found to contradict any other statement he has made in the past. Since Rose planned to testify that Springsteen had never said anything about the murders and that the police had coerced him into making the first statement, he would necessarily be contradicting himself.

As a result, Rose initially claimed his Fifth Amendment right and refused to testify, and was jailed for contempt of court. Prosecutor Darla Davis presented Rose with an immunity deal, but it did not cover the portion of Texas perjury law that deals with inconsistent statements. Rose's Austin attorney, Carolyn Denero, filed a federal writ of habeas corpus, which was denied -- but which gave Rose de facto immunity because the federal court said it believed the immunity deal would cover Rose's inconsistent statement concern.

Rose was then ready and willing to testify, but once he had immunity, the D.A.'s office didn't call him, and left him in jail until the end of the trial. (He has since returned to West Virginia.)

"It is puzzling," said Denero. "It makes you wonder." Prosecutors may have been hoping to intimidate Rose once again into implicating Springsteen, but the whole episode calls into further question the APD's methods of interrogation in the case.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at

  • More of the Story

  • Somebody Has to Die

    The conviction of Robert Springsteen in the yogurt shop murders leaves many questions unanswered.
  • What's Next?

    What happens next in the yogurt shop trials?

    Grounds for Appeal?

    A brief list of possible grounds for appeal in the yogurt shop murder prosecutions.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
Musical chairs at Downtown HQ

May 9, 2014


Roy Rose, Carolyn Denero

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle