Editor’s note: This story is part of an investigative series about the criminal case against ex-Constable Michelle Barrientes Vela. The series culminates with “Downfall,” an hourlong special report that airs on KSAT 12 on March 25 at 9 p.m.
From the start, Michelle Barrientes Vela’s tenure as Bexar County Precinct 2 Constable was tumultuous.
Barrientes Vela, once an unpaid reserve deputy for the constable’s office, was first elected in 2016 with more than 66% of the vote.
Within months, the constable made headlines. Some for internal clashes with subordinates, some for potential misuse of public funds and some for skirting criminal procedure.
Despite those mishaps, Barrientes Vela remained in office until Texas Rangers and FBI agents raided her office on Sept. 23, 2019. As the raid was ongoing, Barrientes Vela announced that she would run for sheriff, triggering the state’s resign-to-run law, forcing her to vacate her office two weeks later.
Within months, Barrientes Vela went from being an officer of the law to a defendant in the criminal justice system. On Jan. 23, 2020, she was arrested and charged with aggravated perjury, two counts of tampering with evidence and three counts of official oppression.
On March 25 at 9 p.m., the KSAT 12 Defenders investigative special, “Downfall,” will air for the first time.
In the one-hour program, you’ll hear how the former constable maintains her innocence and how she believes the investigation of her office and her subsequent arrest are really the result of her attempts to “clean up” corruption among other Bexar County elected officials.
“Downfall” includes an in-depth look at Barrientes Vela’s upcoming felony trial, through interviews with legal and public policy experts as well as with her criminal defense team and the former constable herself.
Before the special report airs, take a look back at her tenure as constable by checking out the timeline below.
Having issues with the timeline? Click here.
READ MORE ON THE DOWNFALL PAGE: