SAN ANTONIO – Once again, the Bexar County District Attorney is going in front of constituents in a town hall Thursday night to answer their questions after his office continues to be under fire.
Our KSAT Investigates team analyzed data for current felony cases that are unindicted by Joe Gonzales’ office.
Valentin Gonzales IV
The murder of Valentin Gonzales IV is one of the thousands of cases.
“He was my best friend. He was always there for me,” Cynthia Garza, Valentin’s mother, said tearfully.
“He was, he was an amazing person, my brother. He really was,” Breann Gonzales said, holding her mother’s hand. Valentin was one of her brothers.
The family of Valentin Gonzales IV is still mourning his death and living with that pain nearly two years after his murder.
“His wife was petting the dog, and the person that had the dog got mad because she was petting the dog. And then he shot at her,” Garza said, describing what led up to her son’s death. “And then I guess my son tackled him down.”
The shooting happened Dec. 30, 2021, at an apartment complex in the 7100 block of Wurzbach.
Valentin’s wife, who was shot at as well, identified the gunman as Jordan Eaton, according to an arrest affidavit.
She then said Eaton ran into the apartment complex after the shooting happened.
Eaton later turned himself in to face murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges.
Twenty-one months later, Eaton remains on GPS monitoring and still has not been indicted.
“How come you haven’t got to us? Letting us know, ‘Well, we’re going to indict him, we’re going to...’ They haven’t even indicted him. So, I mean, what’s taking long?” Garza said.
KSAT Investigates filed an open records request in June for information on GPS monitoring, as well as cases that are awaiting indictment.
Three months later, at the beginning of September, we got that data back and discovered Eaton is one of hundreds of people currently on GPS monitoring in Bexar County.
Looking further into that data, the District Attorney’s Office has 5,714 cases awaiting indictments following arrests made in 2022 and 2023 alone.
Tyler Ashbaugh is on that list.
Ashbaugh was accused in May 2022 of shooting at two San Antonio police officers parked outside a Northeast Side church while in a white SUV.
According to his arrest affidavit, SAPD officers canvassed the area and found the vehicle parked in a driveway with flat tires and a busted rear window.
When those officers went up to the SUV, they saw spent shell casings on the driver’s side floorboard.
The homeowner where the vehicle was parked came outside to speak with officers and said Ashbaugh, an adopted son, borrowed the vehicle but was not at the residence.
Through “investigative research,” SAPD found Ashbaugh was staying at an apartment, where he was later arrested by police. At the time, the suspect had an active Municipal Court traffic warrant and was in possession of keys that matched the vehicle SAPD had been investigating previously.
A search warrant was conducted at the apartment where Ashbaugh was arrested and a gun matching the same caliber found at the scene and inside the white SUV on the floorboard was recovered.
Ashbaugh admitted to driving the SUV and having the gun but not to shooting at the SAPD officers in the church parking lot.
Ashbaugh is one of over 1,500 cases from 2022 still not indicted by Joe Gonzales’ office, and so is Federico Chavez.
Chavez is accused of hitting and killing 58-year-old Lewis Earl Fender on Sept. 5, 2022.
According to BCSO, deputies responded to a crash between a pickup truck and a motorcycle near Loop 1604 and Highway 181 around 7:30 p.m.
Witnesses reported that Chavez had been passing vehicles in a no-passing zone, driving at a high rate of speed, failing to yield, as well as tailgating the motorcycle. Additionally, investigators found open alcoholic beverage containers inside the vehicle.
Chavez was arrested for manslaughter, a second-degree felony.
DA cancels interview with KSAT
District Attorney Joe Gonzales agreed Monday to sit down with KSAT 12 News for an interview about the unindicted cases on Thursday.
We agreed to their time constraints of only 10 minutes for the interview.
On Tuesday, a day after the District 4 public safety town hall, our interview was canceled, citing Gonzales’ need to “prep” for Thursday’s District 7 town hall.
Tonight, @BexarCountyDA is back in front of constituents in a town hall. We were scheduled to speak with the DA Joe Gonzales today about cases that have been awaiting indictment for years. He canceled our interview Tuesday, citing a need to prep for this. @ksatnews pic.twitter.com/V6auutXbqi— Leigh Waldman (@LeighWaldman) September 14, 2023
The DA just stated his office receives 50,000 cases a year. According to an open records request, in 2022 the Bexar County DA’s Office received 18,669 arrest cases. That’s a 31,331 difference.— Leigh Waldman (@LeighWaldman) September 14, 2023
KSAT Investigates reporter Leigh Waldman went to the District 7 town hall to have questions answered there.
“Are you familiar with Jordan Eaton’s case?” Waldman asked Gonzales as he got off the stage.
“I’m not. I understand that you had contacted the office and that we scheduled an appointment that had to be rescheduled,” Gonzales answered, taking time to speak on camera.
At this point, that interview still has not been rescheduled.
However, despite canceling our interview, Gonzales proceeded to interview on KLRN’s “On The Record” with Randy Beamer to discuss recent police shootings Wednesday night.
“I’m just wondering why indictments take so long by your office?” Waldman pressed.
“OK, well, again, somebody’s working it in preparation for our meeting. So if you’ll give us an opportunity to do the research and to find out what happened, you know, I’ll provide whatever information I can,” Gonzales said.
The District Attorney asked for fairness and to give him time to research the cases Waldman was asking about.
Our request to speak about Eaton and Ashbaugh’s cases, as well as several others, was sent to the DA’s assistant director of communication via email on Sept. 8.
“Why is it taking so long to give us justice? Not only us, but the rest of the families that are out there waiting, hurting?” Breann said.
When the representative from Gonzales’ office called to cancel our interview, they offered us a generic interview on how indictments work next week.
Following that call, the director of communications, Pete Gallego, called fellow KSAT Investigates reporter Dillon Collier to ask about details of Waldman’s investigation.