CrimeRetrial of murder case that sparked feud between LaHood, Gonzales underway
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The murder case that ended in a mistrial two years ago and sparked a feud that led to the Bexar County district attorney’s failed reelection bid is back in court this morning as the retrial of the man accused of killing a UTSA graduate student begins.
Miguel Martinez is accused of shooting Laura Carter, 33, five times in the head as she sat in her vehicle in a Southeast Side neighborhood on Jan. 11, 2015. Testimony at the first trial established that Carter was using heroin and sought to buy drugs to sell so she wouldn’t have to work while she went to graduate school.
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Before he ran against then-DA Nicholas LaHood and defeated him, Joe D. Gonzales and Christian Henricksen, now a chief for Gonzales, defended Martinez when he went to trial.
LaHood and one of his then-prosecutors, Jason Goss, presented evidence Feb. 8, 2017, but the proceedings halted and days later prosecutors and the defense agreed to a mistrial, giving no reason.
The defense would later allege prosecutorial misconduct, claiming that a prosecutor did not disclose a prior sexual encounter between another prosecutor and a key witness in the case — and that LaHood threatened to destroy the practices of the two lawyers during a closed-door discussion in Judge Lori Valenzuela’s chambers.
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The incident led to Valenzuela recusing herself and testifying in an April 2017 hearing that she heard LaHood threaten Gonzales and Henricksen and that she considered it official oppression, a Class A misdemeanor.
Senior District Judge W.C. Kirkendall of Seguin took over the case and ruled that LaHood “engaged in an unprofessional and uncalled for ‘rant.’”
LaHood has denied ever making the threats, but in March this year, the State Bar of Texas placed him on probation for one year and ordered him to pay almost $10,000 in attorney fees and expenses and refrain from further misconduct.
Gonzales had to recuse his office from prosecuting the case. Goss, now a defense attorney with LaHood Norton, was hired as a special prosecutor. Defense attorney Joel Perez now represents Martinez.
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Kirkendall is presiding over the case in the 437th state District Court. If convicted of the first-degree felony, Martinez faces up to life in prison.
Elizabeth Zavala covers county and state courts in San Antonio. Read her on our, mySA.com, and on our , ExpressNews.com. | | Twitter:
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