Third investigator in probe of slain Texas deputy fired

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Houston Deputy Killing: 'Motive May Have Been Officer's Uniform'

AUSTIN, Texas, Feb 12 (Reuters) - An investigator looking into the death of a Houston-area deputy who was fatally shot in a hail of bullets last year was terminated on Friday, the Harris County Sheriff's Office said, making him the third person in the probe to be fired for misconduct.

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The dismissals have tainted the investigation of the high-profile death of Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth, 47, who was killed on Aug. 28 as he fueled a patrol car at a Houston-area gas station.

Deputy J. Goodrich was terminated after an internal affairs investigation found that he had inappropriate communications with two witnesses, including one involved in the Goforth probe, the sheriff's office serving the Houston area said.

​Images from Darren Goforth's funeral:

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Third investigator in probe of slain Texas deputy fired
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 4: A detail view of a Harris County Sherrif's badge is seen covered by a patch in support of Harris County Sheriff Deputy Darren Goforth prior to his funeral at Second Baptist Church on September 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Deputy Darren Goforth was fatally shot at a gas station last week. (Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 4: A general view of the scene is seen outside prior to the funeral of Harris County Sheriff Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church on September 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Deputy Darren Goforth was fatally shot at a gas station last week. (Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 4: Family members console Kathleen Goforth (2nd R), the widow of Harris County Sherrif Deputy Darren Goforth following his funeral at Second Baptist Church on September 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Deputy Darren Goforth was fatally shot at a gas station last week. (Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 4: Family members console Kathleen Goforth (2nd R), the widow of Harris County Sherrif Deputy Darren Goforth following his funeral at Second Baptist Church on September 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Deputy Darren Goforth was fatally shot at a gas station last week. (Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 4: A Sheriff's officer salutes the family of Harris County Sheriff Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church on September 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Deputy Darren Goforth was fatally shot at a gas station last week. (Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 4: A general view of the scene is seen during the funeral for Harris County Sheriff Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church on September 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Deputy Darren Goforth was fatally shot at a gas station last week. (Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 4: Police officers from around the state gather around following the funeral for Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church on September 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Deputy Darren Goforth was fatally shot at a gas station on Tuesday September 1, 2015 in Houston.(Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 4: A general view of the casket is seen following the funeral for Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church on September 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Deputy Darren Goforth was fatally shot at a gas station on Tuesday September 1, 2015 in Houston.(Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 4: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott attends the funeral for Harris County Sheriff Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church on September 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Deputy Darren Goforth was fatally shot at a gas station last week. (Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 4: The family of Harris County Sherrif Deputy Darren Goforth arrive for his funeral at Second Baptist Church on September 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Deputy Darren Goforth was fatally shot at a gas station last week. (Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 4: A general view of the casket is seen following the funeral for Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church on September 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Deputy Darren Goforth was fatally shot at a gas station on Tuesday September 1, 2015 in Houston.(Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 4: A young boy shows his emotion as he looks at the casket following the funeral for Harris County Sheriff Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church on September 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Deputy Darren Goforth was fatally shot at a gas station on Tuesday September 1, 2015 in Houston. (Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 4: Kathleen Goforth, second from the right, the widow of Harris County Sherrif Deputy Darren Goforth receives an American flag that covered the casket following his funeral at Second Baptist Church on September 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Deputy Darren Goforth was fatally shot at a gas station last week. (Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 4: A young boy shows his emotion as he looks at the casket following the funeral for Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church on September 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Deputy Darren Goforth was fatally shot at a gas station on Tuesday September 1, 2015 in Houston.(Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 4: Kathleen Goforth, right, the widow of Harris County Sherrif Deputy Darren Goforth wipes her face following his funeral at Second Baptist Church on September 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Deputy Darren Goforth was fatally shot at a gas station last week. (Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 4: A general view of the casket is seen following the funeral for Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church on September 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Deputy Darren Goforth was fatally shot at a gas station on Tuesday September 1, 2015 in Houston.(Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 4: A detail view of the casket is seen following the funeral for Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church on September 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Deputy Darren Goforth was fatally shot at a gas station on Tuesday September 1, 2015 in Houston.(Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images)
Kathleen Goforth, reacts during the funeral service for her husband Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Houston. Goforth was killed a week ago while filling his patrol car with gasoline at a suburban Houston convenience store. A 30-year-old Houston man is charged with his slaying. (Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle via AP) 
The Wichita Falls, Texas, Police Department gathered dozens of vehicles and officers Friday morning, Sept. 4, 2015, to pay respects to fallen police officers by turning on their flashing lights during a minute of silence in Wichita Falls, Texas, as a remembrance to fallen Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth. Goforth was killed a week ago while filling his patrol car with gasoline at a suburban Houston convenience store. A 30-year-old Houston man is charged with his slaying. (Torin Halsey/Times Record News via AP) 
Helicopters perform a fly over during the funeral service for Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Houston. Goforth was killed a week ago while filling his patrol car with gasoline at a suburban Houston convenience store. A 30-year-old Houston man is charged with his slaying. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP)
People wave flags during the funeral procession for slain Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth makes its way along Antoine Drive Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Houston. Goforth was killed a week ago while filling his patrol car with gasoline at a suburban Houston convenience store. A 30-year-old Houston man is charged with his slaying. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP) 
Law enforcement officials file out after the funeral service for Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Houston. Goforth was killed a week ago while filling his patrol car with gasoline at a suburban Houston convenience store. A 30-year-old Houston man is charged with his slaying. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP) 
Round Rock, Texas Honor Guard M. Martinez, right, shows emotion fter the funeral service for Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Houston. Goforth was killed a week ago while filling his patrol car with gasoline at a suburban Houston convenience store. A 30-year-old Houston man is charged with his slaying. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP) 

The funeral procession for slain Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth makes its way along Antoine Drive Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Houston. Goforth was killed a week ago while filling his patrol car with gasoline at a suburban Houston convenience store. A 30-year-old Houston man is charged with his slaying. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP) 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott looks at Sheriff Ron Hickman during the funeral service for Harris County Sheriff's DeputyDarren Goforth at Second Baptist Church, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Houston. Goforth was killed a week ago while filling his patrol car with gasoline at a suburban Houston convenience store. A 30-year-old Houston man is charged with his slaying. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP) 
An honor guard offers a twenty-one gun salute after the funeral service for Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Houston. Goforth was killed a week ago while filling his patrol car with gasoline at a suburban Houston convenience store. A 30-year-old Houston man is charged with his slaying. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP) 
Kathleen Goforth, second from right, along with family, arrives for the funeral service for her husband Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Houston. Goforth was killed a week ago while filling his patrol car with gasoline at a suburban Houston convenience store. A 30-year-old Houston man is charged with his slaying. (Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle via AP) 
Kathleen Goforth, center, along with family, arrives for the funeral service for her husband Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Houston. Goforth was killed a week ago while filling his patrol car with gasoline at a suburban Houston convenience store. A 30-year-old Houston man is charged with his slaying. (Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle via AP) 
The Harris County Sheriff's Department carries in the casket of Deputy Darren Goforth towards Second Baptist Church for his funeral service, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Houston. Goforth was killed a week ago while filling his patrol car with gasoline at a suburban Houston convenience store. A 30-year-old Houston man is charged with his slaying. (Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle via AP)
The Harris County Sheriff's Department carries in the casket of Deputy Darren Goforth towards Second Baptist Church for his funeral service, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Houston. Goforth was killed a week ago while filling his patrol car with gasoline at a suburban Houston convenience store. A 30-year-old Houston man is charged with his slaying. (Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle via AP) 
Harris County Sheriff's Department prepares to fold an American flag during the funeral service for Deputy Darren Goforth at Second Baptist Church, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Houston. Goforth was killed a week ago while filling his patrol car with gasoline at a suburban Houston convenience store. A 30-year-old Houston man is charged with his slaying. (Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle via AP) 
Corpus Christi Police Department officers Krystal Rodriguez, left, and Daniella Ortiz hold hands with retired Rev. Anita Valles as she prays for them following a prayer gathering for slain Harris County Sheriff's Deputy DarrenGoforth, outside the Corpus Christi Police Department on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Corpus Christi, Texas. (Rachel Denny Clow /Corpus Christi Caller-Times via AP) 
Marcy Duran, from left to right, Corpus Christi Police Officers Cristhian Salazar, Krystal Rodriguez and Daniella Ortiz, pray with retired Rev. Anita Valles following a prayer gathering for slain Harris County Sheriff's DeputyDarren Goforth, outside the Corpus Christi Police Department on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Corpus Christi, Texas. (Rachel Denny Clow /Corpus Christi Caller-Times via AP) 
As slain Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth was laid to rest Friday in Houston, members of the Corpus Christi Police Department gathered with members from the community for a moment of silence and prayer outside the department on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Corpus Christi, Texas. (Rachel Denny Clow /Corpus Christi Caller-Times via AP) 
As slain Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth was laid to rest Friday in Houston, members of the Corpus Christi Police Department gathered with members from the community for a moment of silence and prayer outside the department on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Rachel Denny Clow /Corpus Christi Caller-Times via AP) 
Local law enforcement officers stand for one minute next to their vehicles with the lights flashing in honor of slain Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth Friday morning, Sept. 4, 2015 in front of the Ector County Courthouse in Odessa, Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott had called for the statewide observance in honor of Harris County DeputyDarren Goforth who was shot to death last week while fueling his vehicle at a gas station near Houston. (Mark Sterkel/Odessa American via AP) 
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"The deputy's actions were found to be inconsistent with department policy and the Sheriff's Office core values," it said in a statement, without elaborating.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office previously fired Sergeant Craig Clopton, a homicide investigator, and Deputy M. DeLeon.

A lawyer for the man accused of killing Goforth said all three of those fired appeared to have had contact with a woman who was quoted in court papers as saying she was a mistress of the slain deputy.

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"This shines a light on the entire case," said Anthony Osso, an attorney for Shannon Miles, 31, who has been charged with killing Goforth. Miles has been charged with capital murder, which is punishable by death.

In October, the Harris County Sheriff's office fired Clopton after receiving a report that he had sexual relations with the woman who has claimed to have been in a sexual relationship with Goforth.

The sheriff's office said it fired DeLeon on Tuesday for being untruthful in the course of the investigation into the death of Goforth.

None of those fired have spoken to the media about their termination.

More than 10,000 law enforcement officers from across the United States attended the Houston funeral of Goforth in September, remembering him as a good-natured man who brought dignity to the profession.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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