DALLAS - Almost a year after Alfred Wright left his pickup at an East Texas grocery store and disappeared into the woods, authorities have charged a man for selling the drugs they say caused his death.
Shane Dewayne Hadnot was indicted on two drug-distribution counts leading to Wright's death, the U.S. attorney's office in Beaumont announced Friday. The indictment says Wright had cocaine, methamphetamine and the antidepressant Xanax in his system when he died.
The announcement did not satisfy Wright's family, which has long accused authorities of not doing enough to find him or investigate the potential of a homicide.
"I am really convinced that this is a follow-up to a full-fledged cover-up and they're using this young man as the fall guy, as the smoke screen," said his father, Douglas Wright, in a statement to CBS affiliate KFDM-TV.
But John Malcolm Bales, the U.S. attorney for Texas' eastern district, rejected any suggestion of a cover-up. Bales told The Associated Press that his office re-interviewed witnesses and examined previous law enforcement work. Prosecutors found no evidence to back up anything beyond the finding that Wright died due to a drug overdose, Bales said.
Bales said his office took the case in part to "bring some clarity to the issue" after complaints about the handling of the investigation.
"I don't expect people to just believe our indictment, but it is the product of hours and hours and hours of work, and a lot of expense and time, to find out what happened," Bales said.
Wright's decomposing body was found Nov. 25 by volunteer searchers, 18 days after he is believed to have left his truck behind in a rural area south of Hemphill, about 170 miles northeast of Houston.
Hadnot's attorney did not return a message from The Associated Press.
Authorities say Wright placed a call from the parking lot of the grocery store to his wife, Lauren, who sent his parents to pick him up. Shortly afterward, a witness said Wright "put the phone in his sock and jogged north on Highway 87," the indictment said.
Bits of his clothing and a watch were found nearby. But it took more than two weeks to find his body.
An autopsy concluded the death was accidental. But Wright's family hired a forensic pathologist who said she found evidence "suspicious of homicidal violence."
Wright's father and widow did not return phone messages Friday.
Wright, who is black, lived in Jasper, an East Texas town notorious for the 1998 murder of James Byrd Jr., who was dragged to death by a group of white men.
"We can't forget the history of the area because we're both from here," Lauren Wright told the AP earlier this year.
Bales expressed sympathy for the family but denied that the death was racially motivated.
"What he was the victim of was a lesson there that recreational drug use is ... incredibly foolish and it can cost you your life," he said.