SAN ANTONIO – Indicted ex-constable Michelle Barrientes Vela has repeatedly been targeted with death threats ahead of her upcoming public corruption trial, a Bexar County Sheriff’s Office report obtained by KSAT Investigates confirms.
An attorney for the former Bexar County Precinct 2 constable provided evidence to Judge Velia Meza on July 21, including multiple rounds of live ammunition as well as letters in which someone threatened to kill Barrientes Vela.
The items, all mailed to the defendant over the past 10 months, were taken in as evidence by crime scene technicians, the report states.
BCSO officials released the four-page report but have not provided additional details on the status of the case.
The letters, which number more than 30 in all, contain references to upcoming court dates as well as messages including, “wait until you get to court,” it’s almost showtime,” and “you’re going to die next,” the report states.
The threats were brought to the attention of Meza during a hearing last month to determine whether bond should be set in Barrientes Vela’s felony tampering with evidence case. The hearing was called days after Barrientes Vela was accused of being involved in an altercation outside a Dallas hotel during the Texas Democratic Convention.
Meza called the motion from prosecutors to set bond “premature,” since Barrientes Vela had not been accused by police of committing a crime, but did set strict conditions, including barring Barrientes Vela from leaving Bexar County or attending political events ahead of her trial.
The BCSO report on the death threats states that Barrientes Vela left the courthouse without talking to investigators before being instructed by the judge to return.
Upon returning, Barrientes Vela was interviewed in the presence of her attorney Jason Goss.
Barrientes Vela recorded audio of the interview with her cellphone while one of her sons used a digital camera to record audio and video of it, the report states.
Barrientes Vela told investigators she was not comfortable talking with them and that she believed the threats were coming from a political rival, a “law enforcement officer” from BCSO or the Precinct 2 constable’s office or possibly a witness in her case, according to the report.
The former constable told investigators members of her support team have received similar types of letters and that she had previously reported the threats to the San Antonio Police Department.
SAPD has assigned an investigator to the case, according to the report.
The investigation is the latest bizarre wrinkle in Barrientes Vela’s criminal case.
A Barrientes Vela supporter tripped a KSAT photographer outside court last year, attorneys for Barrientes Vela later failed to have District Attorney Joe Gonzales removed from the case and the trial was delayed several months after her attorneys successfully argued that they did not have sufficient time to analyze hours of undercover audio recordings.
Barrientes Vela is scheduled to go to trial Aug. 22 on the tampering charges. She also faces multiple counts of official oppression.
A defense attorney representing Barrientes Vela did not respond to a message seeking comment for this story.
Barrientes Vela’s former captain, Marc D. Garcia, faces charges of aggravated perjury and official oppression and is scheduled to go to trial Aug. 29.