SAN ANTONIO – Convicted felon Michelle Barrientes Vela has asked a judge for a new trial, weeks after she was sentenced to five years probation and 90 days in jail in her tampering case.
The 60-page document, filed by attorneys for the ex-constable Thursday, states the behavior of Texas Ranger Bradley Freeman unfairly tainted the jury against Barrientes Vela.
The one-time Bexar County Precinct 2 constable was indicted on a list of public corruption charges in early 2020 including aggravated perjury, official oppression and tampering with records.
She was only on trial for tampering, however, when Freeman testified to the jury on Aug. 30 that he believed Barrientes Vela had also committed official oppression.
The utterance violated an order put in place by Judge Velia Meza stating that attorneys and witnesses were not to bring up allegations against Barrientes Vela outside of the tampering charges.
Freeman, during a separate hearing Nov. 30 was held in contempt of court by Meza.
After Freeman described the incident as a “simple slip” of his brain, Meza criticized him, mentioning the years of preparation the defense and prosecution put into preparing for the trial.
The judge conceded that Freeman’s actions could impact any appeals of Barrientes Vela’s conviction.
Attorneys for Barrientes Vela said other factors during her trial, including a sleeping juror and another juror who coughed almost incessantly, improperly impacted the proceedings.
The filing also claims that the large number of district attorney investigators in court during the trial gave the jury the improper impression that Barrientes Vela was a “dangerous defendant.”
Judge Meza has until late March to rule on Barrientes’ Vela’s motion for a new trial.
If the motion is denied, the ex-constable is expected to eventually appeal her conviction to the Fourth Court of Appeals.