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Motion to dismiss in Breanna Wood case alleges prosecutorial misconduct against Nueces County DA

Second motion to dismiss alleges prosecutorial misconduct
breanna wood.jpg
Posted at 11:38 AM, Jun 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-27 23:31:22-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A second motion to dismiss has been filed by a defendant accused of killing Breanna Wood.

Sandra Vasquez, who is charged with capital murder, murder, and engaging in organized criminal activity, alleges prosecutorial misconduct by the Nueces County District Attorney's Office.

Vasquez's motion was filed by attorney David Klein, and asks the indictment be set aside or dismissed with prejudice.

She is one of seven who was charged with murdering Breanna Wood. On Friday, Joseph Tejeda's attorneys also filed a motion to dismiss his capital murder case.

The motion references an exclusive interview Fallon Wood, Breanna Wood's mother, gave KRIS 6 News, in which she alleged Nueces County DA First Assistant Angelica Hernandez gave her access to case files.

Later, in a response to a motion to disqualify the DA's office from all felony cases related to Department of Public Safety Trooper Marco Everett, DA Mark Gonzalez stated one of Tejeda's attorneys was told Fallon Wood would be given access to the files, and that no materials were removed from the office while she had that access.

Tejeda's primary attorney Fred Jimenez told KRIS 6 News he was not made aware Fallon Wood had been given access to materials, nor that she was allowed to take copies of interviews home.

“If that is what occurred, I think that is crossing the line,” Jimenez told 6 Investigates in April.

In the motion, Klein says he was never notified by anyone from the DA's office that Fallon Wood would be reviewing the evidence.

"The crime victim does not have a constitutional or statutory right to discover evidence regarding the pending criminal case within a prosecutor's file," Klein wrote in the motion. "The legislature did not intend to give crime victims the right to discover material within the prosecutor's file, merely to give access to the prosecutor."

He writes that by giving that access, the evidence is tainted.

"...her (Fallon Wood) being given access to the entire file and taking material (either with or without permission) home with her destroys the legitimacy of the entire file. There can be no way to know if materials have been removed (or added) to the file or if the file has been altered in any way," Klein writes in the motion.

Similar to the motion filed in the Tejeda case, Klein also detailed allegations into former Nueces County Medical Examiner Dr. Adel Shaker, who performed Breanna Wood's autopsy.

"News stories in local media also contain allegations that Dr. Shaker was seen performing autopsies in an obviously inappropriate manner, such as by failing to remove organs from the corpse and simply entering unverified weights on the autopsy reports," Klein wrote in the motion.

He said the investigation into Shaker and deputy chief ME Sandra Lyden were performed by the DA's office, but allegations have not been disclosed.

"The investigation and charges by the Nueces County Medical Examiners Office not only destroys the credibility of the post mortem examination, but raises other ethical issues about the complete lack of disclosure by the Nueces County District Attorneys Office," Klein writes.

The motion to dismiss Vasquez's indictment also references the Nueces County DA's Office's recusal from her case, saying it did not have legal grounds to disqualify itself.

The DA's office sought to recuse itself after it claims Fallon Wood had threatened litigation against them, the judge and the Corpus Christi Police Department. The Attorney General's Office has taken over as prosecutor pro tem.

"Even with this express basis for disqualification, it has been held that a trial court's authority to disqualify district attorney in a particular case requires proof that the district attorney has a conflict of interest that rises to the level of due process violation," Klein writes.

In the motion, Klein writes that due-process violations arise in cases where the DA may have previously represented the defendant, but would only be prejudiced. Or in cases in which the DA would have confidential information. As reported, the DA's office did not seek to recuse itself based on previous representation of Vasquez.

He also states that his client was not afforded a hearing on the recusal.

"Ms. Vasquez’s due process and due course-of-law rights have been violated by the acts and omissions of the State of Texas through the Nueces County District Attorneys Office and the Nueces County Medical Examiners Office. The entire case has been so thoroughly tainted that no remedy short of dismissal with prejudice will cure the misconduct." Klein wrote.

In a separate motion, Klein objects to the Attorney General serving as prosecutor pro tem, based on a Texas Supreme ruling that calls into question the role of the AG's office.

All motions will be heard at an in-person hearing on July 15.

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