El Paso District Attorney Yvonne Rosales and her associates have evaded numerous attempts to serve them with subpoenas ahead of a hearing later this month on the 2019 Walmart mass shooting, defense lawyers say in a new court filing.
The latest motion filed last week in the Walmart massacre case states that process servers have attempted more than 15 times to serve Rosales at her office, at her home, via her personal cell phone, through her lawyer and chief investigator – all without success. Former Assistant District Attorney Curtis Cox and Roger Rodriguez, the DA’s advisor, are also evading subpoenas, the document states.
“It is completely unexplainable why three public servants, individuals whose ‘loyalty and focus (is) on improving the criminal justice system,’ are thwarting the same criminal justice system to which they swear loyalty,” the motion filed by defense attorneys Mark Stevens, Joe Spencer and Felix Valenzuela states.
The motion does not indicate what information the subpoenas are seeking.
This Nov. 10 motion by the defense team was filed in response to a motion filed on Nov. 7 by Assistant District Attorney Scott Ferguson. Ferguson’s motion calls the Nov. 30 status hearing on the Walmart case an “evidentiary hearing” that has nothing to do with defendant Patrick Crusius’ trial. Crusius is charged with 23 counts of murder and other charges in the Aug. 3, 2019, Walmart shooting.
The District Attorney’s Office is under a gag order from 409th District Judge Sam Medrano that prevents parties in the case from making public comments. Officials at the DA’s office have not responded to a request for comment from El Paso Matters.
The DA’s motion by Ferguson asked Medrano to explain – by Nov. 10 – what the Nov. 30 hearing is about. The DA’s motion says the office needs to know what the hearing will be about so it can prepare. Medrano set the Nov. 30 hearing during a hearing last month, and neither prosecutors nor defense lawyers at that time asked for additional information on the hearing’s purpose.
In response to the DA’s request, Medrano set a hearing to discuss the latest motion for Thursday. That hearing is set for 8:30 a.m., according to court records.
“The State has multiple reasons to be concerned and anticipate that his ‘Status Hearing’ on November 30, 2022, will amount to more that is normally and traditionally understood in El Paso County, Texas, to constitute a status hearing,” the DA’s motion states.
The DA’s motion repeatedly says that its office does not know what the Nov. 30 hearing is about while also stating that attorney Justin Underwood, who prepared a report for the court on whether a Walmart victim family violated a court-issued gag order, has no standing in the case. Also any reports or evidence filed by Underwood have no standing, the DA claims.
Underwood was appointed by Medrano to help the Hoffmann family, whose patriarch was among those killed during the Walmart massacre.
Underwood’s Oct. 6 report, which is the basis of the Nov. 30 hearing, states that the Hoffmann family did not violate the gag order as they were not the original authors of an email sent to the media in August.
“I am convinced that the emails purportedly sent from an email address associated with the Hoffmann family actually originated with someone in the Office of the District Attorney, to include District Attorney Yvonne Rosales, Roger Rodriguez, ADA Curtis Cox,” Underwood’s report claims.
A hearing to discuss Underwood’s report scheduled for Oct. 11 was moved to November at the request of the District Attorney’s Office, which asked for 45 days to review the report filed by Underwood.
In response to the DA’s claims – along with stating that Rosales, Cox and Rodriguez are hiding from subpoenas – the defense lawyers for Crusius also wrote that the DA’s office clearly knows what the Nov. 30 hearing is about.
The defense team’s motion asks that the Nov. 30 hearing be held in order to protect Crusius’ constitutional rights since this is a death penalty case.
“Yet, despite this extraordinary heightened standard of procedure, of process, of action, the Duly-Elected District Attorney has misguided, misled, and misdirected the Honorable Court, thereby trampling on the Constitutional rights of Defendant,” the motion states.