Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez has appointed a special prosecutor to the cases of Department of Public Safety Troopers Holly Thomas and Marco Everett.
Local defense attorney Chris Gale was sworn in by Gonzalez on Thursday.
Eric Perkins, who had requested First Assistant District Attorney Angelica Hernandez be removed from these cases, said he is happy with Gonzalez's decision.
"That’s the only thing that my clients wanted, that the knowledge that the person prosecuting them didn’t have some personal animus," Perkins said. "However, we got to this destination, with my efforts, or their own internal realization that there may have been an appearance of impropriety, I don’t care. That’s fine with me."
KRIS 6 News has reached out to Gonzalez to ask him about his appointment with Gale, and he declined to comment.
Nueces County First Assistant District Attorney Angelica Hernandez will be allowed to continue prosecuting Department of Public Safety Trooper Holly Thomas'crimininal cases, as of now.
Thomas is accused of forcefully restraining a person, and unlawfully pointing a Taser at the person in her capacity as a DPS trooper in March 2020. Thomas is then accused of illegally arresting the person and further subjecting her to unlawful mistreatment.
117th District Court Judge Sandra Watts ruled against two arguments made in during a motion hearing to remove Angelica Hernandez on Friday, citing trial courts' limited authority in removing prosecutors from cases. She said that in order for a prosecutor to be removed, that conflicts must rise to "high levels of due process violations."
"It's not whether the defendant is comfortable with a prosecutor — it's not whether the court is comfortable," Watts said.
Among the witnesses subpoenaed for the cases against Thomas include Rodney Hernandez — Thomas' direct supervisor, and husband to Angelica Hernandez — who referred the allegations to the district attorney's office for prosecution.
When Angelica Hernandez was asked if she had ever subpoenaed her husband to testify, or tried a case in which her husband was a witness, she said "no," and that she didn't recuse herself from the case because she didn't believe there was an appearance of impropriety.
She also said it would be difficult to get another prosecutor up-to-speed on the case.
Rodney Hernandez described his relationship with Thomas as "decent," but that Thomas "was defiant at times."
When Thomas was called to the stand, she said Rodney Hernandez's testimony was surprising.
She said shortly after being hired, she questioned why she was being asked to do things her male counterparts were not asked to do, and that at one point, she said she disagreed with Rodney Hernandez regarding a crash investigation.
"(He said) I needed to learn to follow the rules and he said 'I could have had you indicted,' " she said Friday.
Thomas said she requested a transfer in December or January, and the indictment came shortly thereafter.
She said she never was disciplined or found to have committed any wrongdoing in two separate investigations, including an investigation by the Texas Rangers.
Defense attorneys have two witnesses to be called on the remaining arguments.
Next week, Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez and Fallon Wood are expected to testify.