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Thursday, November 12, 1998

Prominent criminal defense attorney slain in home

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - A prominent criminal defense lawyer was shot to death as he slept in his home in northwestern Bexar County, police say.

Police said Leslie Vaughn, 44, was shot in the back of the head about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Lawyers, judges and others at the Bexar County Justice Center expressed shock.

"When something like this happens, it strikes so close to home," said Cornelius Cox, a criminal defense lawyer and one of Vaughn's close friends.

"We work with it every day; we work with victims, with people accused of crimes, and sometimes people feel we aren't affected by the tragedies," said Cox, a past president of the San Antonio Black Lawyers' Association. "But today we're all feeling a great sense of loss."

Sheriff's Detective Al Damiani said Vaughn was found in his bed.

"It wouldn't surprise me if he didn't even awaken when this happened," the detective said. No arrests had been made in the case late Tuesday.

Officers questioned Vaughn's two sons, ages 16 and 12, who were at home during the attack. The youngest boy said he slept through the incident, but the older son, Brian, said he head a "loud pop" and ran to his father's bedroom.

Vaughn's wife, Madeline, a registered nurse at Methodist Hospital, was "in no condition to talk," Brian Vaughn told the San Antonio Express-News Tuesday.

Damiani said a large rock was thrown from outside through a pair of French doors leading to a patio off of Vaughn's second-story bedroom.

"We think it doubtful that somebody would have been able to climb up there carrying that big rock," Damiani said. "We found no other signs of forced entry.

"We didn't find any place where a suspect may have climbed up (to the second-story patio), and nothing was missing in the house."

Brian Vaughn said his mother had just begun working an overnight shift at the hospital when he called to tell her about the shooting.

"He was a very strong man," the son said. "He would stand up to anybody, no matter what. I think that's what happened to him."

Vaughn practiced law for 18 years in Bexar and Guadalupe counties after graduating from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in 1980, according to the State Bar Association.

He first worked as an assistant district attorney in Bexar County before entering private practice.

The state bar reprimanded Vaughn in March after a client complained he failed to keep her informed about her case.

In 1990, the state bar suspended Vaughn's license for a month after he pleaded guilty to official misconduct, a misdemeanor, court records show.

He was sentenced to serve one day in Bexar County Jail and pay a $1,000 fine for a 1984 incident.

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