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Texas Judge Dismisses Misdemeanor Charge Against Daleiden

Jessica Mason Pieklo

The ruling leaves in place the felony indictment against David Daleiden and his colleague, Sandra Merritt, for using fake identification to gain access to Planned Parenthood clinics.

A Texas judge late Monday dismissed a misdemeanor charge against David Daleiden, the anti-abortion activist at the heart of the video smear campaign accusing Planned Parenthood reproductive health-care centers of illegally selling fetal tissue for profit.

Daleiden still faces felony indictment for tampering with government documents, including using a fake ID in connection with his efforts to infiltrate a Texas Planned Parenthood center. That felony charge is being handled by a different judge and Monday’s dismissal has no effect on it.

In January, a grand jury indicted Daleiden on both felony and misdemeanor counts in regards to the purchase of human organs. It also returned a felony indictment against Sandra Merritt, another individual involved in the video sting operation for tampering with a governmental record. Both felony indictments stem from making and presenting false California driver’s licenses to gain access to a Texas Planned Parenthood facility to engage in some of their filming.

The Hill reports that on Tuesday the Harris County district attorney’s office said it would not fight the dismissal of the misdemeanor charge and would focus its efforts instead on the felony prosecution of Daleiden.

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Gov. Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick had originally called for the Harris County district attorney’s office to begin a criminal investigation into Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast after Daleiden’s smear campaign group, the Center for Medical Progress, released its fifth video last August, which featured clinic staff in Houston talking about the methods and costs of preserving fetal tissue for life-saving scientific research.

In January, the grand jury declined to bring any criminal charges against Planned Parenthood and instead returned indictments against Daleiden and Merritt.

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