A former investigator in the 2016 shooting death of prominent Longview businessman Ron Horaney cites a lack of evidence at the scene and potential suspects who couldn't be connected to the crime in a 25-minute audio recording of a Texas Rangers interview.

The recording logs Texas Department of Public Safety Lt. Brandon Negri's interview of then-Ranger Brent Davis. Negri, with the Rangers' Office of the Inspector General, was conducting an inquiry into the intimate relationship that grew between Davis and Ron Horaney's widow, Faezeh Horaney. The relationship ended when DPS officials learned of the affair.

The audio is interspersed with details of the investigation, such as the existence of two suspects traced to North Central Texas, identified only by ethnicity and gender.

"We actually had an informant call in," Davis tells Negri in the recorded interview. "He said, 'This man ... tried to hire me two years ago to kill Ron Horaney.'"

That informant did not prove a good witness, Davis said, without expanding on that beyond a general description of the informant's character.

"He went south on us," Davis said.

Davis cites a lack of evidence found at the murder scene, and in a separate portion he says Faezeh Horaney was ruled out as a suspect early in the investigation.

Davis was demoted from Ranger to highway patrol for having the affair. He has since been elevated to team leader for a DPS special response team for 42 Northeast Texas counties, his profile on the professional networking website LinkedIn says. The News-Journal sent a query to local and state Department of Public Safety spokespersons Tuesday morning, seeking the department status of the former investigator into the May 30, 2016, murder. The newspaper did not receive replies Tuesday.

Davis' assignment places him in charge of a specialized unit made up of a cross-section of Texas Rangers and DPS troopers. According to the DPS website, unit members " ... are trained to conduct high risk warrant service and provide initial response to critical incidents involving barricaded subjects, hostage situations and active shooter incidents within their respective DPS regions."

The Texas Rangers division of the DPS is widely considered an elite force within the state police department.

After Horaney's fatal shooting, during a Memorial Day 2016 gathering at his home, Davis was among several Texas Rangers assigned to the probe.

"I kind of oversaw everything," Davis told Negri in the internal affairs interview that was released on the video-sharing website YouTube and promulgated by Ty Clevenger, a Union Grove native who is now a lawyer in New York City and who watchdogs the DPS and the judiciary.

A former News-Journal reporter, Clevenger broke the news several weeks ago on his blog, LawFlog, that Davis and Horaney had become intimate. He released the audiotape of Davis' interview with the Office of the Inspector General late last week.

On the audiotape, Davis tells Negri that he did not know the Horaney family before the murder, but he added he was aware of the well-known Longview family and its longstanding downtown business, Horaney's Feed Store.

Stationed then in Smith County, Davis said he joined the Horaney investigation the day after the crime occurred. He said he became platonic friends with the widow, exchanging texts that turned flirty by Christmas 2016. He said the two had "three or four" intimate encounters that ended when his superiors learned of them in July 2017.

During the interim, he said, he tried to cut off communication with Faezeh Horaney when her children discovered texts between the two of them. He said he told her he was selling his house and moving to another location in hopes of preserving his then-17-year law enforcement career.

At least one statement Davis made during the August 2017 inspector general's interview was disputed on Tuesday by Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano, who previously was assistant police chief in Kilgore.

Describing a close professional relationship that began when Cerliano hired him onto the Kilgore police force, Davis told Negri the sheriff had assured him the affair would not prevent Gregg County from seeking his assistance again.

Davis said he had sought out his former boss, now the sheriff in Longview, to apologize for the affair.

"He told me, and supposedly told the major (Grover Huff), that he didn't really give a s--- about this," Davis says of the sheriff. "He (said he) trusts me, he knows how I do things. He knew this was out of character for me, and he told the major he'd bring me over there (in Gregg County) tomorrow to work a murder if he had one."

Cerliano disputed that, but he might have taken greater offense to public release of the internal affairs interview.

"I met him the day he learned DPS knew (about the affair), after I met with Major Huff," Cerliano said Tuesday. "We discussed, based on what occurred, that he would not be able to work with us in Gregg County."

"I'm just going to tell you I'm disappointed that there is information in that interview that should not have been released to the public that is essential to the case investigation," Cerliano said. "And I'm very disappointed that's out there so anyone, including the suspects, has access to that information. I think release of that information is highly inappropriate."

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