SAN ANTONIO – Michelle Barrientes Vela is now prohibited from leaving Bexar County and attending political events after the judge overseeing her upcoming public corruption trial set special conditions of bond during a court hearing Thursday morning.
The conditions set by Judge Velia Meza come days after Barrientes Vela was accused of assaulting a community advocate and harassing a Democratic nominee for the Texas House of Representatives outside a Dallas hotel while all three were in town for the Texas Democratic Convention.
The incident outside the Omni Dallas Hotel happened Friday around 9:30 p.m., multiple eyewitnesses told KSAT Investigates.
Dallas police were called to the scene and issued an information report, but have so far not compiled a criminal offense report.
Prosecutors earlier this week filed a motion to set bond in Barrientes Vela’s Bexar County criminal case, which if granted would have required her to be taken back into custody.
“Anything that would ask these deputies to put her in handcuffs on these cameras is once again an attempt to taint our jury pool right before we go to trial,” said Jason Goss, one of Barrientes Vela’s defense attorneys.
Meza called the state’s motion “premature,” since Barrientes Vela was not criminally charged for the incident, before telling the defendant that she had shown “poor judgment.”
“Let me give you one more piece of advice: whatever friends and colleagues and supporters were with you, cannot act in a way against those two people who are complaining against you and other people while this is pending,” Meza said to Barrientes Vela.
Barrientes Vela, who is free on bond awaiting trial next month for felony tampering with evidence, must also now report to pretrial services once a week, cannot consume alcohol and must submit to random alcohol screenings, according to the conditions set by Meza.
Clark, a well-known community advocate, and Garcia, the Democratic nominee for Texas House District 124, had prepared to testify about the incident Thursday morning but were dismissed without taking the witness stand.
Meza denied a request from prosecutors to issue a no-contact order to Barrientes Vela, which would have prohibited her from going near Garcia.
“I went to Dallas in hopes of learning how to be a good representative for my community and just didn’t expect to end up in this type of hostile situation,” said Garcia.
Clark said Barrientes Vela chest bumped him during the skirmish and that he was weighing whether to move forward with pressing charges since the no-contact order was not issued.
“For whatever reason Michelle started beginning to be irate, pointing her finger in our face, cursing, trying to approach us. She got really aggressive. Her chest bumped against my chest as she started to tell me she wasn’t afraid of me, that I should watch my back” said Clark outside court.
Attorneys for Barrientes Vela previously said their client was present for the incident but was not involved in any assault.
Goss bristled at questions from KSAT about why Barrientes Vela would attend an out-of-town political event while facing felony charges.
“Just because she has been targeted as part of this investigation that has been done, she’s been targeted, it doesn’t mean she gets all those rights taken away. It’s been years, she has to live her life and she’s allowed to do that,” said Goss.
“You know, all I’ve ever asked for you guys is to tell the truth, and you’ve always misled the community,” said Barrientes Vela as she left court. She declined to answer several follow up questions about why she was in Dallas.
Jury selection in Barrientes Vela’s case is scheduled to begin August 22.