Villegas' bond hearing Tuesday morning in Judge Sam Medrano's courtroom

EL PASO, Texas - UPDATE: Daniel Villegas' bond hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. in Judge Sam Medrano's courtroom.

PREVIOUS STORY: Attorney Joe Spencer confirms the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals mandate has officially been released and that Daniel Villegas will have a bond hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the 409th District Court.

In mid-December, Judge Sam Medrano of the 409th District Court said he did not have the authority to let Villegas out on bond because the Court of Criminal Appeals had not issued an official mandate.

The higher court in mid-December issued an opinion saying Villegas deserved a new trial. But the case was still in the jurisdiction of the Court of Criminal Appeals until it issued a mandate, the official order that puts the case back in the jurisdiction of Medrano.

"They're very frustrated, but you have to go through the process. As long as we've got a light at the end of the tunnel, we're fine," said Villegas' mother, Yolanda Villegas when she spoke about her family's disappointment in mid-December.

Spencer says they're trying to set a bond hearing for Tuesday.

If Medrano grants Villegas bond, Villegas could leave the El Paso County Jail where he has been jailed the last few weeks.

The District Attorney's Office still has not announced if they'll retry Villegas. If they don't, Villegas will be a free man, since his murder conviction was thrown out by the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Earlier this month, the D.A.'s Office filed a motion to remove Medrano from the case and a possible retrial of Villegas.  The motion was denied by Stephen B. Ables, Presiding Judge of the Sixth Administrative Judicial Region of Texas.

Ables' ruling states the court found "no legal or factual basis" to recuse Judge Medrano.

The D.A. is concerned because Medrano said he believed Villegas was innocent during a hearing last month. That's when the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled Villegas deserved a new trial.

A jury convicted Villegas of capital murder in 1995. He has always maintained his innocence, saying an El Paso Police detective coerced him into making a confession.

In a document filed with the 409th Judicial District Court, Villegas and his defense argue the district attorney's motion undermines confidence in the judicial system.

"The judicial system would grind to a halt if any judge's findings based on evidence required him to recuse himself from any further proceedings in the case," states Villegas in the document.

comments powered by Disqus