Prosecutor: Defense is Stalling in Murdered Border Patrol Agent Case

Goldie and Javier Vega
File Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

The prosecutor trying the capital murder case of slain U.S. Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega, Jr., told the judge that the defense is stalling.

“Somebody is dragging their feet,” Chuck Mattingly said.

Defense lawyers are just now asking for a psychological evaluation of one of the previously deported illegal alien defendants accused of murdering him.

“Let’s get this clear,” state prosecutor Mattingly said. “I’m here right now today. I’ll work this case; I’ll try this case whenever they want to try it. I’m just letting the court know that there is going to be a power change … in Willacy County,” reported the Valley Morning Star.

“Secondly, judge, this case is over a year-and-a-half old. And if they don’t know whether their client is intellectually disabled, or incompetent or insane, by this time or wasn’t insane at the time of the incident, then I would suggest somebody is dragging their feet. Maybe not Mr. [Ed] Stapleton, maybe not Mr. [Abner] Burnett. Maybe the Consulate is, maybe their experts are. A year-and-a-half or more is plenty of time to make the decision whether or not he is competent or intellectually disabled,” Mattingly added.

The Valley Morning Star reported that both sides expressed concern that there would be a new district attorney.

August 2 was the second anniversary of the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega, Jr. Vega was allegedly killed by two previously-deported illegal aliens who were attempting to rob him and his family when they were fishing.

Ismael Hernandez, 43, and 32-year-old Gustavo Tijerina-Sandoval, are facing capital murder charges and could get the death penalty. Both men have been tied to a series of armed robberies targeting fishermen in south Texas, as reported by Breitbart Texas in August 2014. This week, Ismael Hernandez’ lawyers asked that their client be tested for “intellectual ability.”

The parties appeared before state District Judge Migdalia Lopez of Willacy County. No ruling has been reported.

Houston criminal defense lawyer Carmen Roe told Breitbart Texas, “The right to a fair trial insists that every citizen be mentally competent to stand trial, capable of understanding the charges and assist in their defense. The promise of a fair trial is never more important than when the State seeks the death penalty. Our system of justice must focus on reliable results that stand the test of time rather than a conveyer belt of one-size-fits-all trial settings.”  She said that a trial can only be conducted after the attorneys have the time to do a thorough investigation to determine whether their client was mentally culpable at the time of the crime.

Roe added, “It’s not uncommon for a person to become mentally incompetent over time, particularly while awaiting a possible death sentence.” Roe is a past president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association (HCCLA).

The Brownsville Herald reported that the next status hearing for the defendants is scheduled for late January 2017.

Breitbart Texas has reported that officials with the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) have fought to have the agency classify Agent Vega’s death as being a “Line of Duty Death” (LODD).

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.


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