EL PASO, Texas (KFOX14) — For the first time Wednesday, the El Paso District Attorney Yvonne Rosales spoke to KFOX14 after she’s been accused of not indicting hundreds of court cases.
Rosales told KFOX14 that it’s time she shares her side of the story.
Rosales said this situation is all just a misunderstanding.
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She said the number of criminal cases dismissed by El Paso County's public defender was a personal attack against her and her office.
“There’s been a lot of push back from the administration that was not asked to return and it’s been a constant harassment since day one. But we keep pushing forward, I’m going to do the job that I was elected to do and that is to protect the citizens of this community,” Rosales said.
What Rosales is referencing, in regards to some of the administration that were not asked to return. The reason is that she made everyone in her office re-apply for their job when she was re-elected.
El Paso County Public Defender Kelli Childress said she filed motions to dismiss hundreds of cases because Rosales was running out of time to indict them. This means that hundreds of accused people are off the hook.
However, Rosales clarified the cases can still be prosecuted according to the statute of limitations.
“To say that they were not timely filed again, it’s a misdirection. It’s smoke and mirrors because the reality is we have to abide by the statute of limitations and that typically runs from 2 to 10 years that we can file a case," Rosales said.
Additionally, the motions to dismiss cases simply release a defendant from having to comply and report to bond conditions, according to Rosales.
KFOX14 asked Rosales if she was given a heads up that Childress was going to do this, but she said she was blindsided.
Rosales said part of the reason was there were many of these cases on hold.
She explained there was also a backlog that came over from the previous administration, along with delays in drug testing labs and hurdles brought upon by the pandemic.
“Justice will be served and we still can file criminal charges, there case is not lost, that is the most important message that I want to convey to this community,” Rosales said.
In regards to how the district attorney's office plans to move forward with the cases, Chief of the Intact Division for the 34th Judicial District Court, Douglas Tiemann said they will move forward with the standard process, as usual.
“The public defender has identified which cases are important to them at this point so those if we were to answer any priority has basically been set by the public defender, those are the ones we would go to the grand jury with.”
Tiemann added El Paso County recently re-signed the DEMS program agreement. The DEMS agreement allows police officers to present cases for prosecution to attorneys, with the goal of reducing the backlog of cases.
KFOX14 contacted Public Defender Kelli Childress to address why she decided to file the motions to dismiss the cases.
In a phone interview, Childress said her office was at its tipping point and she saw no relief in sight, in any sort of agreement to depose cases, and that is why she filed the motions.
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