SAN ANTONIO – The sentencing of convicted ex-Bexar County constable Michelle Barrientes Vela is scheduled to resume Tuesday and conclude later this week.
This phase begins more than four months after she was convicted of two felony counts of tampering with government records.
The off-and-on sentencing portion of her trial was last paused in late October, after Judge Velia Meza granted a motion to exclude the testimony of Barrientes Vela’s former captain.
Ex-Precinct 2 captain Marc D. Garcia, who was given immunity by the prosecution in his own criminal cases, had planned to testify that Barrientes Vela directed him to pad a criminal complaint filed against her political opponent in 2019, public records show.
Attorneys for Barrientes Vela earlier this year raised conflict of interest concerns after learning that Garcia was scheduled to testify against their client, since both Barrientes Vela and Garcia were represented by the same attorney at one point.
Garcia eventually testified in camera, meaning only the judge and members of the prosecution and defense were allowed inside.
Judge Meza later that day granted the defense’s motion to exclude the former captain’s testimony. The prosecution then rested its case without calling any additional witnesses.
Attorneys for Barrientes Vela previously said they anticipate calling one to two days’ worth of witnesses on their client’s behalf.
Three years later
Barrientes Vela and Garcia were indicted nearly three years ago, in January 2020, in a wide-ranging criminal case covering parts of the ex-constable’s tumultuous 33 months in office.
After prosecutors in 2021 dismissed the most serious charge against Barrientes Vela, felony perjury, she went to trial late this summer on the felony tampering case.
Prosecutors were able to prove during the nearly two-week trial that Barrientes Vela intentionally tampered with Rodriguez Park security cash logs and then provided a fake set of documents to law enforcement after being issued grand jury subpoenas in the summer of 2019.
Witnesses previously called by the prosecution detailed how the then-constable mistreated them and members of her agency and detailed allegations of additional lawbreaking by Barrientes Vela that were off limits during the testimony portion of her tampering trial.
Barrientes Vela faces between two years of probation and 10 years in prison.
She has asked to be sentenced by Judge Meza.
Attorneys for Barrientes Vela have previously said she will appeal her felony conviction.