A shocking decision by a jury in Cameron County just a month ago left the community demanding answers and seeking justice. Our News Center 23’s Emily Jimenez sits with one of our state representatives about what can be done to ‘fix’ an erroneous punishment. It’s a story you’ll see only on News Center 23.
State Representative Eddie Lucio III says, “I want to very specifically understand why once the jury’s decision was read aloud, was there no opportunity for clarification or appeal.”
Representative Eddie Lucio III is taking a look at the Marco Antonio Gonzalez case.
Gonzalez had been found guilty of nine counts of aggravated assault against police officers. As for the punishment, the jury handed down a sentence of five years of prison because of a misunderstanding of the terms consecutively running the sentences separately for a total of 45 years or as they mistakenly chose, concurrenlty (stacked, for five).
When all was said and done, even Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz could not do anything about it.
Luis V. Saenz said, “Everybody agrees, the police, the DA’s office, the jury agrees that Marco Antonio Gonzalez did not deserve five years, that he deserved 45 years. I talked to Representative Lucio, urging him that at the next session to provide some mechanism, a fails safety valve, whereby a bad guy, an individual convicted of a crime, does not benefit from an honest to goodness mistake made by the justice and that’s not good for the system.”
District Attorney Saenz did just as he had promised. He reached out to Eddie Lucio III in hopes that legislation can be built to prevent something like this from happening again. A mistake that Lucio III says isn’t the jury’s fault.
Representative Eddie Lucio III said, “Not at all, I think that it is the responsibility of lawyers and the bar and the judiciary to make sure that we’re drafting things in a way that the lay person can understand. As soon as I’m done with this interview, I’m going to start making phone calls. we are already in the process of that I think I need to go meet with Luis and get his perspective, and then from that point I think the next phone call will be to the State Bar.”
The Representative says the prefiling date for a bill proposal is November 14th. But says he can submit it at any time during session, which begins January 10th. Next he says, is a call to the governor’s office.