Jury finds Michelle Barrientes Vela guilty on 2 counts of tampering with records
SAN ANTONIO – A Bexar County jury on Thursday discovered former Precinct 2 Constable Michelle Barrientes Vela guilty on two felony counts of tampering with records.
The jury deliberated for 4 hours earlier than reaching its determination within the practically two-week lengthy public corruption trial.
Barrientes Vela is eligible for probation. She might face a most punishment of as much as 10 years in jail.
Barrientes Vela requested for Judge Velia Meza to determine her sentence. The courtroom will reconvene on Sept. 12 to start the sentencing section. Until then, Barrientes Vela will likely be allowed to stay free.
Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales thanked the jury for his or her service and for staying “focused on this complex case.”
“Their verdicts show that anyone who breaks the law will be held accountable,” Gonzales stated in an announcement. “I also want to thank our team who has worked tirelessly on this case for more than three years. Our witnesses, from those who worked with the former constable and Texas Ranger Brad Freeman, also deserve credit for standing with the facts and the truth from the very beginning.”
Barrientes Vela nonetheless faces a number of counts of official oppression in a separate case that has not but been set for trial.
The fees had been included in a large sweeping January 2020 indictment of Barrientes Vela and her former captain, Marc D. Garcia, protecting her tumultuous 33 months in office.
The indictment, amongst different allegations concerning her time in office, accuses Barrientes Vela of presenting Rodriguez Park safety money logs that she knew had been false.
WATCH: Highlights from Day 8 of the Michelle Barrientes Vela trial
During closing arguments Thursday morning, prosecutor Oscar Salinas requested the jury to disregard the “noise” surrounding the high-profile case.
Salinas known as the protection arguments an “insult to the intelligence” of the jury.
“The defendant concealed records after being given a grand jury summons,” stated Salinas, who added that Barrientes Vela then made faux paperwork and supplied them to the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office.
Defense lawyer Jason Goss instructed the jury a guilty verdict can be the jury telling the general public that its okay to lodge this kind of investigation towards anybody locally.
“They set a trap and they didn’t get anything,” stated Goss, repeating feedback he made throughout opening arguments final week.
Defense lawyer Nico LaHood throughout closing arguments described the state’s presentation as a “bumpy waltz,” as he harped on Freeman’s investigation and reminded the jury that the key FBI recording machine worn by former Precinct 2 clerk Susan Tristan didn’t lead to any incriminating proof being gathered towards Barrientes Vela.
“Be careful of the world you help create because you may have to live in it someday,” LaHood instructed the jury.
During her portion of closing arguments, prosecutor Dawn McCraw stated Barrientes Vela’s attorneys had been so vital of her and Freeman as a result of they didn’t need the jury to have a look at the individual on trial.
“Disparaging Ranger Freeman and me is incredibly insulting,” stated McCraw, who touched on her 32 years as a prosecutor.
After the trial McCraw stated it was one of the toughest circumstances she had finished throughout her career.
(*2*) stated McCraw.
“We presented our case, the facts were on our side, the evidence was on our side,” Salinas stated after the trial.
Barrientes Vela stepped down in late 2019 after triggering the state’s resign-to-run regulation.
McCraw stated its fairly potential Barrientes Vela will keep away from jail time when sentenced later this month for the reason that ex-constable had no earlier prison historical past.
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