BEXAR COUNTY, Texas – Physical evidence in a case involving a child allegedly impregnated by a 30-year-old man was left in a Bexar County Sheriff's Office vehicle for nearly a week, BCSO officials have confirmed.
A BCSO spokesman confirmed late Tuesday that evidence related to the arrest of Rolando Salas Fernandez in the child sexual assault case was left in a vehicle from June 25 to July 1, before being discovered by a deputy.
The deputy then contacted a supervisor, who then notified BCSO's evidence unit, which then processed the evidence, the spokesman said.
Court records show the evidence was originally collected the same day of the arrest of Fernandez, who was released on bond June 26.
A source familiar with the investigation into the blunder said the items included garments that may include DNA evidence.
The mistake raises chain of custody questions, as well as concerns about whether the environment impacted the evidence during those six days.
"We will be consulting with the District Attorney's Office, regarding, what if any effect it may have regarding the criminal case," BCSO spokesman Deputy Johnny Garcia said in a written statement.
A spokeswoman for the DA's office declined to comment since the case is pending.
Garcia also wrote that a disciplinary process was initiated the same day the evidence was found in the unit.
BCSO officials have not said how many employees are being investigated for the gaffe.
Threats to kill victim's family
A warrant for Fernandez's arrest obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders indicates that the suspect threatened to kill the 14-year-old girl's family if police found out about their sexual relationship, which began in December.
The girl is approximately six months pregnant, according to the warrant.
BCSO investigators were made aware of the relationship after the girl reported it to a sexual assault nurse examiner at an area hospital.
Fernandez, a convicted felon, has a criminal history that includes theft, drug possession, DWI with a child in the car and felon in possession of a firearm.