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DPS trooper seeks to disqualify Nueces County First ADA Angelica Hernandez

Holly Thomas hearing
Posted at 5:49 PM, Jul 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-29 18:50:10-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — 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.