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2009-12-27 / Front Page

DA reviews year of crime fighting

In a year when over 500 new criminal cases were subject to indictment by a Kleberg County grand jury and older cases were reviewed, District Attorney John Hubert highlighted a year of crime fighting.

As the poor national economy started to make an impact on Texas, Hubert said the number of burglaries seemed to be on the rise, and the district attorney’s office took extra efforts to prosecute these types of crimes.

Two local men, Rafael Ortega and Cayetano Lopez, were convicted in the robbery of a donut shop where the owner was shot.

“Initially a cold case, an anonymous tip and rapid follow up by police officers led to multiple discoveries of evidence and resulted in the suspects being arrested,” Hubert said.

After one of the suspects escaped custody and was caught again, both were convicted and sent to prison.

Eric Eloy Perez was convicted by a jury and sent to prison for breaking into a priests home, a church and a local doctor’s office, the DA said. His co-defendant received a reduced sentence for testifying to the truth at Perez’s trial. Perez blamed the burglary on his drug addiction. The jury sentenced him to given 10 years and one day in prison and 2 years in State Jail.

Guadalupe Guerrero was convicted in a burglary with commission of an assault stemming from a domestic dispute with a former girlfriend.

Although the girlfriend filed three affidavits of nonprosecution, the jury found the defendant guilty and placed him on probation.

Unknown to the jury, the defendant was arrested on unrelated misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest out of Nueces County, Hubert said.

James Bedford was convicted of burglary of a habitation in June and sentenced to prison.

Evidence showed that Bedford had previously worked as the victim’s home care provider.

Valentine Reyes was convicted of attempting the bribe a Kleberg County jail guard and received 12 years in prison from a jury.

The attempt was reported by the guard and a sting was set up to catch all involved.

Another inmate testified against Mr. Reyes for a lesser prison sentence.

Reyes, formerly convicted of sexual assault of a child, was considered by the District Attorney’s Office as a threat to the community.

Aaron Fulbright was convicted of causing injury to a child and received 15 years in prison for his actions, which caused abusive head trauma (formerly called “shaken baby syndrome”).

The plea resulted from an extensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding the trauma.

Jose Garza was convicted at trial of felony criminal mischief when he tore up the exterior of a woman’s vehicle, causing damage in excess of $1500.

In that case, the victim reported the crime immediately to the police rather than waiting or taking justice into their own hands.

Robert Williams was convicted of indecency with a child. The local man was convicted by a Jury of touching the child over their clothing, with the intent to gratify his sexual desire.

As is common in these cases, the child’s outcry was delayed and there was no physical evidence, only testimonial. Although he denied the act at trial, later statements overheard in court on a status review showed otherwise.

Paul Garza, a local youth minister, plead guilty to indecency with a child by exposure.

“This was just one of a series of cases which involved older men in authoritative positions who had a relationship with a young female under their care. I think the word is getting out that we will prosecute for these types of crimes,” said Hubert.

The checkpoint continues to be a source of cases involving drug possession.

A jury convicted Claudia Cortinas-Benavides of a second degree possession of marijuana based on circumstantial evidence that showed, beyond a reasonable doubt, that she knew the 155 pounds of marijuana was hidden in a false compartment in the bed of a truck she was driving.

A jury convicted Ipolito Vinton of possession of cocaine in February.

Night patrols by police observed Vinton drop something to the ground which later turned out to be cocaine.

Vinton claimed that the officer was mistaken and that he was urinating, not dropping something, and the baggie must have been already there.

Jeremy Robertson was convicted of Intoxicated Assault for a DWI accident which severely injured another driver.

He was given 10 years probation, which began with a year-long treatment program involving classes while incarcerated.

In the meantime District Attorney Hubert used Asset Forfeiture money to improve service and provide drug education and rehabilitation,

Hubert used over $25,000 to upgrade the computers in both the District and County Attorney Offices.

“We cannot allow these offices to stagnate through lack of funds. By working with the County Attorney, we were able to use some of those funds to increase our productivity and efficiency while reducing taxpayer cost,” he said.

“To that end, since the County Attorney was working a heavy caseload with outdated equipment, we assisted her in buying more modern equipment. As prosecutors, both offices need to work together to ensure justice is done,” Hubert said.

In 2009, the District Attorney used his asset forfeiture funds to purchase two vehicles for Constables in Precinct 2 (Kingsville) and Precinct 3 (Riviera and Ricardo).

These vehicles will replace aging vehicles which were on loan from the Sheriff’s Department.

The repair costs on the two vehicles were beginning to mount and their lack of reliability was a serious issue.

In addition, Hubert spent funds on the vehicle for Precinct 1. All of the constables have agreed to help Hubert find witnesses when available and serve warrants.

The Boy Scouts and the District Attorney teamed up to provide Drug Education for kids. They Boy Scouts’ program is provided free to schools but needs funding from other sources. “This is a hardworking group of people.

By using asset forfeiture funds to pay for drug education, we are providing increased services to the taxpayer while not increasing costs, he said. The County Judge, Pete DeLaGarza, and the County Commissioners have repeatedly expressed their support of my use of these funds to help the community,” said Hubert.

The District Attorney’s Office used over $14,000 for new equipment for the Kingsville Police Department which they requested. This equipment is designed to increase the reliability of information while reducing possibilities of police overreaching.

New Training Seminars paid for out of the District Attorney’s Asset Forfeiture Funds

The District Attorney’s Office has begun a new campaign to make the public aware of scams and help the public avoid being a target of crime. It was kicked off during the 2009 holiday season.

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