The last remaining charge against two California pro-life activists has been dropped.
A Texas judge dismissed the tampering with government records charge against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, who made undercover videos allegedly implicating Planned Parenthood officials in arranging the illegal sale of fetal tissue to researchers for profit.
Prosecutors claimed Daleiden and Merritt used fake driver's licenses to hide their identities when dealing with Planned Parenthood.
Tuesday, District Judge Brock Thomas dismissed the charge at the request of the Harris County prosecutor's office.
"The dismissal of the bogus, politically motivated charges against CMP project lead David Daleiden and investigator Sandra Merritt is a resounding vindication of the First Amendment rights of all citizen journalists, and also a clear warning to any of Planned Parenthood's political cronies who would attack whistleblowers to protect Planned Parenthood from scrutiny," Daleiden said in a statement.
CBN News has been following the story surrounding Daleiden and Merritt. Read more:
- Judge Dismisses Misdemeanor against David Daleiden in Planned Parenthood Case
- Planned Parenthood Lawyer Admits Illegally Receiving Evidence from DA in Daleiden Case
- Calif. Seizes Undercover Videos from Pro-Life Filmmaker's Home
Defense attorneys said Daleiden and Merritt, activists with The Center for Medical Progress, never should have been indicted.
"Today's dismissal in Houston is a huge win for the First Amendment rights of undercover journalists," Daleiden's attorney, Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society, said in a statement. "David Daleiden used standard undercover journalism techniques and followed all applicable laws in doing so."
"This meritless and retaliatory prosecution should never have been brought. Planned Parenthood did wrong here, not David Daleiden," Breen continued.
"We celebrate this victory for Sandra Merritt as she did nothing wrong," said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, the organization representing Merritt. "She exposed the sale of baby body parts by Planned Parenthood and today she has been vindicated."
"The indictment was politically motivated and should never have been filed in the first place," Staver continued.
Merritt and Daleiden could have been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison if they had been found guilty on the felony charge.
At first, Texas authorities launched a grand jury investigation of Planned Parenthood after the release of the undercover videos last August.
The grand jury ended up clearing Planned Parenthood of misusing fetal tissue and decided to indict Merritt and Daleiden.