CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A new judge has been assigned to the Joseph Tejeda capital murder case, and three other cases involving the murder of Breanna Wood.
Tejeda is accused of killing Wood, his ex-girlfriend, in 2016.
The assignment of a new judge comes days after Nueces County District Attorney Mark A. Gonzalez asked to recuse himself and his office from any cases associated with Wood's murder.
Tejeda was one of seven arrested for the crime. Three of the accused have taken plea deals, three are awaiting trial, and one, Theodore Allen died in jail in 2020.
Wood's body was found buried in a box covered with a white sheet and wrapped in thick plastic wrap in rural Nueces county on January 3, 2017.
Her mother, Fallon Wood, said the lack of communication from the district attorney's office is delaying justice for her daughter. But she hopes with a new judge and new prosecution team, she will get the closure she needs.
Two years ago, a judge warned prosecutors if they continued to ask for delays in Tejeda's case they would be held in contempt.
Prosecutors proceeded with a request for a delay, claiming several key pieces of evidence still needed to be tested for DNA.
"Prolonging, prolonging, prolonging, canceled and rescheduled," Fallon Wood said.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the trial, scheduled for April 2020, was postponed once again.
Now, the district attorney's office has asked to be removed from all cases related to Wood's murder.
"I fully admit that this case could have been handled better, should have been handled better, from the very beginning," states Nueces County First Assistant District Attorney Angelica Hernandez in a letter to Fallon Wood last month.
In recusal documents obtained by KRIS 6 News, Gonzalez writes the DA's office is concerned it will be unable to fulfill its obligation under the victims' bill of rights.
He said that Fallon Wood had threatened civil litigation against his office, the CCPD, and the judge who postponed the trial.
But Wood said the DA's office already has violated her rights. She also said she never threatened litigation against CCPD or the judge.
"I'm blocked from his (DA Gonzalez) email," said Fallon Wood. "I'll leave a message. I never get a return phone call. How do you go in and block a victim, a family, from trying to contact you?"
KRIS 6 News made several attempts to speak with Gonzalez about his office's handling of this case.
We called, texted, and emailed seven times before he responded via text and said he could not comment because of the gag order on the case.
Despite clarification that we were seeking comments on the handling of the case, not details of the actual case, Gonzalez declined to comment yet again.
J. Manuel Banales is the new judge assigned to Tejeda's case and the three other remaining cases.
The state's motion for recusal has yet to be granted, but Fallon Wood says she hopes a new prosecution team will be assigned soon and will pick up the ball she claims the Nueces County District Attorney's Office dropped.