Departing Dallas district attorney wins final battle of bitter dispute with oil heir

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DALLAS — The departing Dallas County district attorney has won perhaps the last court battle in a bitter fight over his office's prosecution of an oil fortune heir for mortgage fraud.

The 5th Texas Court of Appeals in Dallas ruled a local judge was wrong to hold a hearing on whether District Attorney Craig Watkins had abused his powers for political gain in prosecuting Al Hill III.

Watkins' refusal to testify at that hearing led to a contempt citation and rumors of an FBI investigation. The local judge, Lena Levario, then dismissed the mortgage fraud case against Hill.

Watkins — once considered a rising Democratic star in Texas — lost his bid for re-election this year, as did Levario. The incoming district attorney, Susan Hawk, has not said whether she'll prosecute Hill.

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