CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Back in court Friday was Dr. Juan Villarreal for a hearing on missing evidence.
As we reported when the hearing began on Wednesday, Villarreal has been accused of 14 counts of sexual assault, but his lawyers have filed a motion to dismiss the cases after learning there is evidence that is missing.
The motion also asked for the disclosure of all evidence from the state.
The hearing concluded on Friday, but no decision yet on whether any cases will be dismissed.
After hearing a rumor, co-defense counsel, Lisa Greenberg confronted Nueces County District Attorney Felony Chief Prosecutor, Will Greenlee.
She said Greenlee then told her and co-counsel Ron Barroso, that a box or two of evidence has been missing. No one knows exactly what is missing.
Greenlee was put on the case earlier this year.
Co-defense Greenberg, said when Greenlee learned evidence was missing, he waited to tell the judge or defense attorneys.
“I'm not trying to get after you or Ms. (Kristi) Britt. Y'all come in and get in this very difficult situation, but you’re in it right now,” said Judge Carlos Valdez of the 148th District Court.
In closing arguments of the hearing, defense attorneys argued the Nueces County District Attorney’s Office acted negligently loosing evidence and acted in bad faith concealing that information. They believe bad faith is grounds for dismissal.
“It was not deliberately revealed to the court or to the defense. And had the defense not found out about it, we may well have never known about it," said Barroso.
Greenlee said more would need to be proven to dismiss the case.
“Negligence is not a showing of bad faith," he said. "There must be specific actions taken that shows that evidence was intentionally lost or intentionally destroyed and there is zero evidence of that in this case your honor.”
Greenlee asked for an order to have both parties sit down to see what each other has, to figure out what is missing. But Villarreal’s attorneys took issue with the request.
“We can sit all day and compare our evidence," Greenberg started to say. "If there was something like a note from a prosecutor, a video statement, something—I don't know about it. And, if it's missing it still remains missing, number one. Number two, to impose the duty upon us makes the district attorney’s office forget their duty to disclose they were(…)hiding missing evidence. I had to ask.”
Defense counsel also had the lead detective on the case take the stand. He testified he delivered all evidence to the DA's office before indictments came down.
“From your perspective, you didn’t loose that evidence did you?”, Greenberg asked.
“No ma’am,” said Detective Julio Ramos of Corpus Christi Police Department.
“From your perspective, who lost that evidence?”, asked Greenberg once more.
“The DA's office,” Ramos responded.
Valdez has asked for written briefs before he makes a decision on the motion to dismiss. In the briefs, he's asked lawyers to identify a proper remedy a situation when evidence is missing.
He also asked if bad faith constitutes a dismissal and what their definition of that is. Those are due by Friday Sept. 9.
The hearing rolled into addressing a motion made by the state to continue to the case past the upcoming trial date.
Valdez denied the continuance, prompting Greenlee to announce the state will not be able to have an expert witness ready to go by the Oct. 17 trial date.
The case has been ongoing since indictments came in 2018.