The case could have been handled differently.
That’s what the Nueces County District Attorney’s Office told 6 Investigates on Thursday during a detailed interview about the case of a former Corpus Christi Hooks player seen on video beating his girlfriend.
6 Investigates recently obtained a copy of the Danry Vasquez court case, and looked through probation records, which reveal for the case to be dismissed Vasquez completed an online course about domestic violence and donated $500 to a local charity instead of completing community service. That was part of a deal with the District Attorney’s Office.
“Perhaps in retrospect we could have done something different, like let the case just languish and hope that he comes back and deal with it then,” Manning said, referring to jail time.
Surveillance video of the incident showed the former Corpus Christi Hooks player attacking his girlfriend in a stairwell at Whataburger Field. He hits her, and then knocks her down a flight of stairs. Last week Corpus Christi Police Department released that video to KRIS 6 News once it was confirmed the Vasquez court case had been dismissed.
The content of the video ignited a heated conversation on social media about domestic violence and how the case was handled.
Police arrested Vasquez in 2016 after the incident and charged him with misdemeanor assault. His girlfriend at the time refused to press charges.
But it was a deal made in February 2017 with Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez’s office that set the stage for what Vasquez had to do.
At the time, Vasquez was in his homeland, Venezuela.
If he followed the terms of the plea deal, the case would be dismissed.
The deal is called a pre-trial diversion agreement, and it’s typically allowed for first-time, misdemeanor offenders, like Vasquez.
Those agreements usually are restrictive.
“He absolutely did not buy his way out of the charges,” said Matt Manning, First Assistant District Attorney in Nueces County.
Pre-trial diversion agreements typically don’t allow someone to live outside Nueces County or travel out of Texas, and they require a once a month visit to the probation office.
But for Vasquez, the DA’s office granted several exemptions:
Vasquez could be in Venezuela or Laredo. He could travel if needed, but only for work or with permission.
He was allowed to check in with probation by phone, mail or email, instead of being there in person.
“We did everything we could to leverage the fact that he did want to play baseball despite the fact that he was not on American soil,” Manning said.
For the case to be dismissed here’s what Vasquez had to do:
He had to follow the requirements set by Major League Baseball, according to the agreement with the DA’s Office. Vasquez completed a 52-lesson online course about domestic violence, according to case details on file with Nueces County Community Supervision and Corrections Department. Manning said Vasquez also completed an anger management course, but no record of that was entered into the official case file for Vasquez and the probation department didn’t have a record on that on file.
Vasquez also was required to work 50 hours of community service, and pay all standard court and probation fees – a total bill of $1,330. He had one year to do those things, according to the agreement.
Nueces County Court records show days before the deadline last month, Vasquez still owed the court a couple hundred dollars and hadn’t completed his community service.
That meant he was not compliant, and when the deadline passed the case was set a jury trial on March 5th.
But instead of going to trial, the DA’s Office requested the case be dismissed, according to court records.
Manning said that’s because his office was notified by the probation department that Vasquez had completed the terms of the agreement. An email sent to the probation department showed Vasquez made a $500 donation to the Coastal Bend Food Bank, according to records reviewed by 6 Investigates.
The DA’s office allowed the donation instead of community service. Manning said he didn’t know exactly why it was allowed for Vasquez, but charitable donations in lieu of community service are not uncommon.
“I do know that it’s something that we’ve allowed for people who are not baseball players, people who are not in the public eye and people whose cases are not high profile,” Manning said. “It’s actually a relatively routine thing.”