DALLAS - Dismissed but not expunged. It’s a simple legal term that is now holding back a North Texas woman who once served in the military. She said a criminal case that was dropped is making it impossible for her to deploy.
Tech Sgt. Laura Spurling has served in the military for 19 years with the U.S. Air Force Reserves and the Texas Air National Guard. She has the commendations to show for her service.
She was on assignment in Africa when she was brought stateside and arrested when her plane landed at DFW Airport.
“He said, ‘Uh… is there a Tech Sgt. Laura Spurling on the plane?’ And I stood up and said, ‘I’m Tech Sgt. Laura Spurling.’ He said, ‘Could you please step off the plane?’ So I stepped off the plane and he handcuffed me,” she said.
Spurling was booked into the Dallas County jail and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. She was given a $50,000 bond.
“It turned my life upside down. It affected my clearance,” she said.
The charge stemmed from an incident involving her husband and his nephew. Spurling said the nephew started a disturbance and her husband put him out. But the nephew told police a different story.
“I put a gun in his mouth and threatened to blow his head off,” she said. “I had nothing to do with this incident.”
The case was dismissed because prosecutors could never find the man who made the complaint to interview.
Despite being dismissed, the case was not expunged. That means Spurling can no longer deploy on assignments.
“You take the word of a 10-time felon over a decorated soldier who’s been in the military for 19 years and who’s never been in any kind of trouble ever,” she said.
FOX 4’s Shaun Rabb asked the Dallas County district attorney for a meeting and spoke with attorney Shaun Naidoo about trying to help Spurling clear her name.
“She shouldn’t have been one arrested in the first place or even charged with a crime,” Naidoo said.
Dallas County DA Faith Johnson said people that have had their cases dismissed, no-billed, pardoned or those who are found not guilty can have their cases expunged. But it’s a process that can take up to three years.
With Naidoo’s help, the district attorney agreed to expedite Spurling’s expungement.
“It is beautiful. Thank you so much,” Spurling said smiling.
“You’re welcome. You’re welcome,” Johnson said. “And we’re so happy to be able to bless you with this and we’re gonna do it. It’s gonna take place hopefully in 60 to 90 days.”
“Oh thank you. I love you,” Spurling replied.