‘Very concerning’: Former prosecutor exposes troubling discussions between DA’s office, Wren Collective

Attorney Meredith Chacon explains potential fallout in conversations had by DA’s Office and criminal justice reform group

SAN ANTONIO – A former prosecutor from the two previous district attorney administrations is concerned about conversations the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office had with a criminal justice reform group based in Austin.

Earlier this week, KSAT revealed more than 200 pages of conversations between District Attorney Joe Gonzales, First Assistant DA Christian Henricksen and Wren Collective founder Jessica Brand.

Discussions included policies — including bail reform — high-profile cases, and topics the office discussed with other county officials.

“To me, it reads like an office who’s taking direction from an outside entity,” Chacon said. “It reads like an office who’s taking direction on cases and making decisions based only on political factors, and it’s very, very concerning.”

Chacon, who unsuccessfully ran for Bexar County DA in 2022, believes there are consequences to these discussions and broke down three main issues of concern.

“Under article 2.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, that’s where it outlines the district attorney’s duties, and their duty is to see that justice is done, not to seek it,” Chacon said. “Clearly, their decisions are not being driven by justice, and that is very troubling.”

Secondly, Chacon brings up that candidates have to file campaign disclosures under the election code.

“There has been nothing disclosed in his campaign financial disclosures regarding in-kind contributions from this company,” Chacon said. “We should be demanding an accounting for where this all comes from.”

The most concerning issue Chacon has is discussions about certain cases.

“If a prosecutor has discussions with outside entities about ongoing cases such as this, they waive their work product privilege,” Chacon said. “It implies in the text that they are seeking counsel from these people as to whether or not to proceed. It’s a very dangerous thing.”

In one of the text exchanges between Henricksen and Brand in March 2020, Brand states, “You could settle that death penalty case right now and no one would bat an eye.” Henricksen responds, “I know, I’m trying.”

KSAT confirmed that the death penalty case was the one related to Otis McKane.

McKane’s case was in the middle of jury selection when the text was sent. That jury panel would eventually be suspended because of the pandemic.

In 2021, McKane was sentenced to death for the murder of SAPD detective Benjamin Marconi.

Sources tell KSAT that this particular conversation mitigates evidence that could be used by McKane’s lawyers in the appeal process.

“I think there’s a disingenuousness that’s going on here that underlines all of this, and when you know something’s wrong, you don’t want people to know about it,” Chacon said. “Bexar County deserves better.”

We continue to reach out to the Wren Collective by phone and email and have yet to get any response.


Take a closer look at the conversations between Bexar County DA’s Office & criminal justice reform group

What we know about the Wren Collective

Criminal justice reform group wields significant influence on DA Joe Gonzales, text records show

KSAT Q&A: Joe Gonzales discusses SAPOA allegations, work with criminal justice reform group

Political interest groups having greater influence on criminal justice leaders, law expert says

About the Authors

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

Alex Trevino is an assignments editor at KSAT who previously worked as the senior video editor and photojournalist.

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