Sources: Bexar County District Attorney holds meeting to explain relationship with Wren Collective

DA Joe Gonzales held all-staff meeting to address exchange of text messages with the Austin-based criminal justice reform group

SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales held an all-staff meeting this week to address text messages exchanged between himself, First Assistant District Attorney Christian Henrickson, and the Austin-based criminal justice reform the Wren Collective.

In late January, KSAT received more than 200 pages of text messages between Gonzales, Hendrickson, and Wren Collective founder Jessica Brand. Those text exchanges discussed specific criminal justice reform policies and mentions of specific cases.

Multiple sources within the District Attorney’s Office told KSAT that Gonzales held a meeting on Zoom this week for his entire staff. In that meeting, sources said Gonzales told his staff that the Wren Collective did not influence any of the decisions made in the handling of cases, specifically the cases of Otis McKane and Eric Cantu. McKane was sentenced to death in 2021 for the murder of San Antonio Police Detective Benjamin Marconi. Charges against Eric Cantu, who was shot by then-San Antonio Police Officer James Brennand in 2022, were dropped.

Sources told KSAT that Henrickson addressed the Cantu case in his remarks to the staff. The sources said Henrickson’s decision to drop the charges against Cantu was made because the D.A.’s office did not have the evidence to prosecute him. The dismissal also allowed Cantu’s family to be in the hospital room with him as he recovered from his injuries. Brennand was eventually fired from the San Antonio Police Department and charged with aggravated assault by a public servant and attempted murder. During a hearing on Wednesday, Brennand’s legal team subpoenaed all communication between Gonzales, Henrickson, and Brand as it related to his case.

During the meeting, the sources said Gonzales also told his staff that the Wren Collective has been assisting him and Henrickson with messaging to the media and press releases. Henrickson added during the meeting that the group had provided insight into what other district attorneys’ offices around the country are doing when it comes to criminal justice reform. Those sources said Henrickson reiterated to the staff that the main use of the Wren Collective is to provide talking points of subjects for the media and was never involved in cases.

According to those sources, Gonzales did not take any questions from the staff and directed them to contact him privately to discuss any questions or concerns anyone may have.

More Wren Collective coverage on KSAT:

About the Authors

Sean Talbot is the Assistant News Director at KSAT. He formerly served as the Assignments Manager. He joined KSAT in 2001. He graduated from Texas State with a degree in Mass Communication with a minor in Political Science. When he’s not getting our news crews out the door, he’s at home with his wife Lomisa and their two daughters Grace and Sydney.

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.

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