Laird Considine, longtime host of La Kiva's "Open Mic." Photo (c) 2014 Pat O'Bryan
Thursday evening, February 6: As part of today’s hearing in the 394th District Court, Judge Roy Ferguson expressed his extreme displeasure that important information, possibly key evidence, had been disclosed by way of social media and other unconfirmed reports prior to it reaching his office. He made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that those mistakes would not be repeated whether the case goes to a Grand Jury or not.
While KRTS has not been the first to report on some findings, we have ensured that what we report here is factual and confirmed by Brewster County’s Public Information Officer, taken directly from court transcripts, or from eye witness accounts in court appearances.
District Attorney Rod Ponton’s motion to raise bail from $200,000 to $400,000 was denied as was Flint’s request to return to Missouri where his father lives. If released on bail, Flint will be required to:
- remain in Brewster, or an adjacent, County;
- wear a monitoring device;
- report to probation officers on a weekly basis;
- abstain from any alcohol or illegal drugs;
- submit to blood tests as deemed appropriate by probation officers; and
- seek and maintain employment in Brewster or an adjacent county.
All all of the above are contingent upon Flint posting bail.
Kirk Meade, Flint’s court-appointed attorney, was present at the hearing although Meade’s law partner, Jaime Escuder, represented him today. Meade and Escuder have offices in Alpine.
Sole testimony in today’s hearing came from Captain Edward Cardoza. Cardoza was the first law enforcement official to be notified of Felt’s death and, per standard operating procedure, became the officer in charge of the investigation. While Escuder objected to several statements made by Cardoza, Judge Ferguson overruled him stating that it was imperative he receive as much factual information as possible on which to base his rulings.
Judge Ferguson, in making his decision regarding the motions to increase bail and allow the Defendant to temporarily move to Missouri, also considered the following points from Escuder. Flint:
- has no history of violence;
- attended Missouri State on a football scholarship where he received a degree in Geology;
- was employed by Far Flung Outdoor Center, one of the most reputable outfitters in Brewster County, as their Operations Manager;
- was fully cooperative with law enforcement officers upon initial questioning and was then released; and
- made no attempt to flee after questioning.
Following today’s proceedings, District Attorney Ponton and the Brewster County Sheriff’s Office must review findings based on evidence gathered in the case pending analysis and, based on those findings, Ponton must decide if the case should be referred to a Grand Jury. If the case is referred to a Grand Jury, and the Grand Jury indicts Flint, the case will go to trial in Judge Ferguson’s court pending any appeal.
Today’s hearing followed a gathering of friends and family of Glenn Felts on Wednesday evening in Terlingua. As owner of La Kiva Bar, Felts hosted a weekly “open mic” on Wednesdays and his friends agreed he would not want the record to be broken after 17 plus years. Despite freezing temperatures, over 100 people – musicians and members of the Terlingua community – gathered near La Kiva. Soon thereafter, Felts’ family and law enforcement officials allowed the gathering to move to La Kiva’s parking lot where Laird Considine, host of open mic for many of those 17 years, and Moses Martinez, with whom Considine has been sharing the host responsibility of late, led the open mic. Both Felts and Flint were well-known and well-loved and an aura of sorrow enveloped those present as the clouds, fog and freezing temperatures descended upon the area.
The tragedy in Terlingua has cast a foreign presence over it. Long time residents and friends are finding what comfort they can amongst one another as they gather at local venues, in one another’s company, and receive support from those who love but live outside of the Big Bend. Judge Ferguson instructed everyone, as part of today’s hearing, to act in a timely and judicious manner. While, regardless of the outcome, the death of Felts and the charges against Flint will forever alter this close-knit community, it is also known for its resilience. As a longtime resident said at the end of a gathering this evening, “there are pros and cons to living in a place like Terlingua. The “cons” seem immaterial at a time like this; the main ‘pro’ is that the true heart of Terlingua is its community; we’re a family and we are here for one another. We’ve been rocked to the core this year – not only from this tragedy but by the loss of Steve Fromholz. One of the members of our ‘family’ is the musician Butch Hancock and he sent this message out by Facebook yesterday and I think it pretty well sums it up for all of us:
May all the love pouring
from our hearts spread with
Glenn’s Texas size smile… across
our circle far and wide…
but not that circle… ”
Wednesday, February 5, 3:30 p.m., Betse Esparza, Public Information Officer for Brewster County reported that Tony Flint has been charged with 1st Degree Murder in the death of Terlingua resident Glenn Felts. Mr. Flint was magistrated this morning by Gerald P. Sotello, Justice of the Peace for District 1 in Brewster County. Ms. Esparza also confirmed that Mr. Flint’s bond was set at $200,000 and a court-appointed attorney, Kirk Meade, Esquire, assigned to Mr. Flint.
A date is not yet set for the Grand Jury which will review the case and decide whether or not to indict Mr. Flint.
For the past 18 years, La Kiva hosted an open mic every Wednesday evening. Laird Considine, interviewed yesterday by KRTS Station Manager, Tom Michael, has been the host of “open mic” for most of that time. Glenn’s friends decided that he would not want the record to be broken and an “open mic” is being held near La Kiva and Terlingua Creek this evening at 5:00 p.m. Several years ago, inclement weather and an area power outage almost forced “open mic” night to be cancelled. Laird and Glenn met in the parking lot of La Kiva and Laird played a few songs then they both looked at each other and agreed that was enough to ensure the record remained unbroken. Tonight his friends will ensure that remains true.
La Kiva itself and the parking lot are still being treated as a crime scene as the investigation continues.
Yesterday, the Brewster County Sheriff’s Department issued a statement acknowledging they had arrested Tony Flint, a resident of Terlingua, in the death of La Kiva owner, Glenn Felts. Judge Roy Ferguson of the 394th State Judicial District issued the warrant for Flint’s arrest following questioning by law enforcement officials.
Felts’ body was found early Tuesday morning and Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson and his team led an investigation, in partnership with the Texas Rangers and the 83rd District Attorney’s office, which led to this evening’s arrest. At this time, an initial court appearance is slated for the morning of Wednesday, February 5 in Alpine.
Flint was a river guide for Far Flung Outdoor Center based in Terlingua and he was also well-known in the community, further compounding the sense of tragedy amongst residents. On condition of anonymity, one local woman said, “I didn’t think this could get any worse. Tony is a friend to many of us who loved Glenn. On the river, one of Tony’s favorite things to do was to point out the monarch butterfly migration along the Rio Grande to friends and visitors to Big Bend. I just keep hoping this is all a bad dream.”
Trevor Reichman, a musician from the area and one whom Glenn took special pride in hosting – including a “listening room” performance at La Kiva – said, “When one walked into La Kiva, one was walking into Glenn’s home and he made everyone feel welcome there. Making money wasn’t his priority. Making memories was. His legacy will live on.”
As reported earlier, the community of Terlingua was rocked this morning, February 4, by news of the death of La Kiva owner, Glenn Felts. In less than 15 minutes there were more than 300 posts on Facebook between mutual friends — shock, devastation, disbelief. Felts operated the bar since 1990, when he assumed ownership following his uncle, Gil Felts, who built La Kiva in 1979.
In the attached radio report, KRTS News spoke with John Waters, Wendy Wright, R.C. Toler, Bill Ivey, Sharron Reed, and Laird Considine.
Sharron Reed is a resident of Terlingua and a correspondent for KRTS, Marfa Public Radio.