Yesterday, a state appellate court ruled that Daniel Villegas should get a new trial. Villegas, who has claimed he is innocent, was convicted in 1995 for the shooting death of two teens. He was prosecuted by Jaime Esparza.
Jaime Esparza has been the District Attorney since 1993. In the 2012 election, Jaime Esparza’s platform was “fiscal responsibility”. Since being elected, Jaime Esparza has personally tried four prominent murder cases; William Berkley, David Marmolejo, David Renteria and Daniel Villegas. In the 2002 Sophia Martinez case, William Berkley was found guilty and put to death on 2010 based on his own confession and a picture implicating him in the murder.
The Daniel Villegas Case
Jaime Esparza prosecuted Daniel Villegas twice on a 1993 double murder. The original trial, in 1994, was declared a mistrial based on a hung jury. In 1995, during the second trial Villegas was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Villegas has stated that he was coerced into confessing at the age of sixteen. Yesterday a court of appeals ruled that Villegas should get a new trial. It is unclear if Jaime Esparza will opt to prosecute Daniel Villegas again however I expect that he will.
The David Renteria Case
Jaime Esparza personally prosecuted David Renteria in 2003 for the death and kidnapping of 5 year-old Alexandra Flores in 2001. In 2006, the appellate court vacated Renteria’s death sentence because Jaime Esparza’s team left the jurors’ with the impression that Renteria had not shown any remorse.
In 2008, David Renteria was again sentenced to death by a new jury, after Jaime Esparza had to retry the penalty case against Renteria in a new penalty phase trial.
In 2011, when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the latest death sentence, Jaime Esparza told the news media that he was “glad that we’re past this”. Esparza added that the previous reversal was “on an issue that we thought we had tried according to the law”.
The David Marmolejo Case
On March 2011, a San Antonio jury convicted David Marmolejo in the murder of his mother; Gloria Marmolejo on July 25, 2009. The San Antonio jury also sentenced David Marmolejo to 54 years in prison. Marmolejo had to be tried in San Antonio because Jaime Esparza’s prosecution of Marmolejo resulted in a hung jury in October 2011 in El Paso.
Of the four cases personally tried by Jaime Esparza, three have resulted in the cases having to be retried twice because Jaime Esparza could not secure a proper conviction the first time around. In the case of Marmolejo, not only did the taxpayers’ of the community incur the additional cost to try the case again but they also had to foot the bill to have Marmolejo’s case heard in San Antonio.
So the question that begs to asked is how is Jaime Esparza being “fiscally responsible” when three out of four case he himself tries must be prosecuted twice? More importantly, how can you trust a District Attorney to fairly prosecute a case when he is rebuked three out four times?