Attorney: Bexar County DA’s office untruthful about dismissing DWI for witnesses’ testimony in trafficking case

Attorney Carolyn Wentland raises discovery concerns, says prosecutors have dragged their feet in handing over evidence

SAN ANTONIO – A longtime San Antonio defense attorney has accused the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office of being untruthful about its reasons to dismiss a DWI charge against a victim in a human trafficking case.

Attorney Carolyn Wentland represents Jarvis Anderson, who faces charges of attempting to compel prostitution and aggravated promotion of prostitution in connection with his 2017 arrest by San Antonio police.

SAPD investigators said Anderson and his younger brother, Lawrence Jackson, forced two teenage girls into prostitution.

Officers testified this month that they learned of the trafficking after one of the teens fled from a North Side hotel in November 2017 and alerted her family, who then contacted police.

Jackson was sentenced to 10 years in prison in late 2022 after being convicted of trafficking a person under the age of 18, court records show.

Defendant Jarvis Anderson sits in court during a motion to suppress evidence hearing earlier this month. (KSAT)

Anderson is free on bond awaiting trial on the now nearly seven-year-old allegations.

Anderson’s four-count indictment, which included three charges of trafficking, was reduced to two counts in late 2022 after prosecutors refiled their case.

Prior to Anderson going to trial, however, Wentland has made claims that prosecutors did not properly hand over evidence in her client’s case and were untruthful about their decision to dismiss a 2021 elevated DWI charge against one of the victims.

Trafficking victim crashed into SAFD ambulance while driving drunk, records show

KSAT is not identifying either woman at the center of the trafficking case.

One of them, a then-teenager found by SAPD with Jackson in a room at the Drury Plaza Hotel near the airport in November 2017, was accused of driving drunk with a blood alcohol content over .15 during an unrelated February 2021 crash off of Culebra Road.

The woman crashed into a San Antonio Fire Department ambulance at the intersection of Les Harrison Drive and Culebra Road, SAPD records show.

She was unable to recite the alphabet at the scene, stated she was too drunk to be driving and was later hospitalized for a large cut on her forehead, records show.

Five people in all were hospitalized following the crash, records show.

A blood alcohol analysis completed by a Texas Department of Public Safety lab in April 2021 showed the woman’s blood alcohol content was .21, nearly three times the legal limit to drive a vehicle.

That same month, she was cited by SAPD for marijuana possession, driving the wrong way on a one-way street, not having insurance and displaying the wrong registration after an officer saw her driving the wrong way west of downtown, SAPD records show.

After a warrant was issued for her arrest in the DWI case in January 2022, the woman failed to appear for a court appearance that April and racked up at least five pretrial violations, court records show.

The violations included skipping alcohol tests and failing to calibrate her in-home alcohol monitoring device, court records show.

Despite the repeated violations, however, prosecutors last March dismissed her DWI case for further investigation, records show.

“It was always, always, always told to me by the state that there had been never any agreement with her cooperation. That there was nothing, nothing, nothing that we needed to be aware of. That the trafficking case where she supposedly was a victim of was not connected to the dismissal, which happened on a very bad DWI,” said Wentland.

Internal DA records entered as evidence, however, appear to tell a different story.

The same day the woman’s DWI case was dismissed, a DA staffer wrote in judicial dialog notes that he had spoken to CH (First Assistant District Attorney Christian Henricksen) and JG (District Attorney Joe Gonzales) about the case.

“We all agree that the case should be dismissed. D (defendant) was very helpful in a HT (human trafficking) case that resulted in prison time for that defendant,” the staffer wrote, making an apparent reference to Jackson’s prison sentence.

The staff member included in the notes that the arresting officer did not witness the woman driving, could not perform the horizontal gaze test or other standard field sobriety tests and did not get the defendant’s signature on the blood draw consent form, records show.

Judicial dialog notes about the woman's DWI dismissal were entered as evidence in Anderson's compelling prostitution case earlier this year. (KSAT)

Her attorney in the DWI case did not respond to a call from KSAT seeking comment for this story.

“It clearly indicates that there is a connection there,” said Wentland.

Wentland raises discovery concerns, calls SAPD’s investigation flawed

During a days-long motion to suppress evidence hearing this month before a visiting judge, Wentland described SAPD’s investigation of her client and Jackson as flawed.

She pointed out during the hearing before Judge Jefferson Moore that SAPD officers entered the hotel room and subsequently searched it without a warrant.

Body-camera footage played in court during the hearing shows an SAPD officer remove a gun from Jackson soon after entering the room.

Officers then questioned the teen in the room while she sat and cried on a bed, the footage shows.

Officers found multiple guns in the room.

The teen said Jackson had taken her phone and that she had been in an escort service for about a month, the footage shows.

“From the beginning of this case I think that there was illegal search and seizure issues from the start. And I don’t think they (SAPD) did a real, proper investigation,” said Wentland.

An SAPD spokeswoman defended the agency’s handling of the case, telling KSAT in a written statement: “Ensuring victim safety is our top priority. In this case, officers had exigent circumstances to enter the location after receiving an outcry from a victim who escaped her captors. SVU (Special Victims Unit) detectives thoroughly investigate all calls of human trafficking in an effort to bring justice to those affected by this heinous crime.”

During the hearing, Wentland also brought up discrepancies on how the other teen left the hotel.

Police were told a delivery driver brought the teen to the apartment of a family member, but police were also told the teen’s sister picked her up and brought her to the apartment.

The hearing included several contentious moments between Wentland and Judge Moore as the attorney attempted to show portions of the body-cam footage.

Visiting Judge Jefferson Moore interrupts attorney Carolyn Wentland during a motion to suppress evidence hearing. (KSAT)

“Stop. Stop. Stop talking. I’m not hearing or seeing anything that’s relevant,” said Judge Moore, who then instructed Wentland to sit down.

As of Wednesday, KSAT could find no record of Judge Moore ruling on the motion to toss out evidence.

Wentland declined to elaborate on her client’s version of what was taking place, stating it could jeopardize his case if and when it goes to trial.

“There was a lot of manipulation of the system in this case. And human trafficking, this was not a human trafficking case,” said Wentland.

Wentland said prosecutors dragged their feet for months before finally agreeing to hand over their correspondence with SAPD related to the case.

Anderson is scheduled to make his next court appearance on Friday.

The Bexar County District Attorney’s Office did not respond to repeated requests from KSAT to address Wentland’s claims.

Read more reporting on the KSAT Investigates page.

About the Authors

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

Joshua Saunders is an Emmy award-winning photographer/editor who has worked in the San Antonio market for the past 20 years. Joshua works in the Defenders unit, covering crime and corruption throughout the city.

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