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Mishandling of Evidence Nearly Results in Mistrial of Suspect Accused of Killing Border Patrol Agent

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - Jury was dismissed early today May 18, as legal issues came up with the trial for one of the suspects accused of capital murder of Javier Vega Jr. 

The defense for suspect Gustavo Tijerina-Sandoval asked the judge to declare a mistrial due to mishandling of evidence.

Attorneys Nat Perez and Alfredo Padilla argued that evidence from the shooting of Vega Jr. had not been properly secured, and the fact that the evidence was at Willacy County Sheriff’s Office, was not a requirement of chain of custody. 

“How are they going to be able to prove that no one else had access to that exhibit,” Padilla said. 

The prosecutors argued that if anything was altered it should have been brought up at that time.

“This evidence was never out of the care, custody, control or management of the Willacy County Sheriff’s Office,” said Prosecutor Chuck Mattingly. 

After hearing from both sides, Judge Migdalia Lopez found that the Willacy County District Attorney’s Office had no knowledge of the situation until it was presented in the court room the day before.

She will admit the evidence and will leave it up to the jury to give it the weight of value they feel is appropriate. 

Although the judge did not declare a mistrial, she is going to give the defense an opportunity to investigate the situation further. 

The Willacy County sheriff is ordered to appear in court, while the defense wants to know who had access to the evidence.

Court will resume next week.  
 


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