San Antonio

DA argues to stay on Barrientes Vela case, calls basis of motion to remove him ‘pure fiction’

SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales this week pushed again on an try to remove his office from prosecuting indicted ex-constable Michelle Barrientes Vela, claiming the protection’s motion to have him disqualified failed to present proof of any battle of curiosity.

The motion, filed Wednesday in 226th District Court by the lead prosecutor in Barrientes Vela’s upcoming public corruption trial, comes every week after attorneys for the one-time Precinct 2 constable claimed Gonzales needs to be eliminated and changed by an outdoor lawyer after feedback made this summer season by the DA’s former political guide.

That guide, Robert Vargas III, who helped Gonzales defeat incumbent Nico LaHood within the March 2018 Democratic main earlier than departing the marketing campaign, was accused in June of saying he would discover somebody to run within the subsequent main election towards Democrat Judge Velia Meza if Meza “didn’t do the right thing” in Barrientes Vela’s upcoming trial.


LaHood, former DA political guide spar throughout Barrientes Vela listening to

Meza entered the alleged feedback by Vargas into the report in late June, main to a proper evidentiary listening to being held on the allegations in early August.

From left: Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, and Robert Vargas III. (KSAT)

Attorneys for Barrientes Vela, together with LaHood, argued that Vargas and Gonzales are nonetheless politically tied to each other, pointing to photos of the 2 males standing collectively at public occasions.

The state’s response this week countered that Vargas has not labored for Gonzales’ marketing campaign since early April 2018.

“Merely being photographed at various events with District Attorney Gonzales or being previously employed by District Attorney Gonzales does not afford the person any elevated level of political influence over the District Attorney or his office. To make such a claim or connection is untenable,” the response states.


Prosecutors additionally took difficulty with the declare that Gonzales has a historical past of supporting candidates to run towards judges who’ve dominated towards his needs.

The state’s response claims that Gonzales’ resolution to endorse a candidate who ran towards Judge Frank Castro in final year’s Democratic main was based mostly on Gonzales understanding the candidate for over 30 years.

“Claiming ‘Mr. Gonzales’ admitted and documented history of publicly supporting primary challenges to sitting district court judges who have displeased him makes real the threat to Judge Meza’s judicial independence’ is nowhere in the record. It is pure fiction,” the response states.

Michelle Barrientes Vela invoked Fifth Amendment greater than 100 instances throughout taped deposition


The state’s response additionally prompt that if Barrientes Vela’s attorneys imagine Meza’s impartiality was undermined by Vargas’ alleged feedback, the right treatment could be to have Meza recuse herself from the case.

The trials of each Barrientes Vela and her former captain, Marc D. Garcia, have been transferred to Meza’s courtroom this spring after Judge Ron Rangel recused himself.

Rangel, in a textual content message despatched after the recusal, stated he wished “to guard against even an appearance of conflict” after Barrientes Vela beforehand posted an image on Facebook of her and the choose at a 2018 human trafficking convention.

Judge Sid Harle, who sat in for Meza through the August evidentiary listening to, will likely be tasked with ruling on the motion, a courtroom official beforehand instructed the Defenders.


Barrientes Vela and Garcia, who face a mixed 9 public corruption prices, are tentatively scheduled to go to trial Dec. 6.

Court officers beforehand stated Barrientes Vela could be tried first, that means in all chance Garcia’s trial will likely be pushed to 2022.

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