High Risk Intake Team falling short of goal set by Bexar County District Attorney last fall

Several cases more than six-months old remain with no indictment

SAN ANTONIO – The Bexar County District Attorney’s Office has been trying to tackle a backlog of more than 6,000 cases.

Last fall, the office created a “High Risk Intake Team” to focus on cases involving violent crimes and repeat offenders.

With a few weeks left in the month, the Intake Team is falling short of the goal that DA Joe Gonzales told Bexar County Commissioner’s Court it would hit by May, according to recent numbers provided by the DA’s Office.

Pending Cases Awaiting Indictment

Larry Allen West in April 2023 was arrested for the 1981 death of Carol Joyce De Leon, whose body was found on the side of Interstate 35 in Comal County.

The day before she died, authorities said Deleon visited a nightclub in San Antonio.

An autopsy revealed that Deleon died from multiple gunshot wounds, according to DPS.

On April 13, the Rangers arrested 68-year-old Larry Allen West for the murder of 18-year-old Carol Joyce Deleon. (KPRC)

A second case pending indictment is that of Antonio Almaraz.

On Sept. 19, 2023, Almaraz was arrested and charged for leaving his 2-month-old baby inside a vehicle alone for approximately three hours.

Almaraz, a Bexar County Sheriff’s Office deputy, was dismissed from his job after his arrest. He is charged with injury to a child causing serious bodily injury-reckless, a second-degree felony; abandoning a child with the intent to return, a state jail felony; and endangering a child, a state jail felony.

At the time of the incident, the baby was in critical condition but no update has been given since.

Antonio Almaraz, 31. (Bexar County Jail)

The third case involving a pending indictment is that of Marcus Davila.

Davila, a repeat offender, allegedly let his dog attack a man he was arguing with.

The 53-year-old victim suffered serious lacerations to the left side of his neck and is in serious condition.

Davila was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and dangerous dog attack with serious bodily injury.

West, Almaraz and Davila have been out on bond as the cases sit with no movement until presented to a grand jury.

Sept. 2021 Mugshot for Marcus Davila (BCSO/KSAT)

Backlog Numbers

In November 2023, the backlog of cases pending indictment was 6,330.

During a Commissioner’s Court meeting, Gonzales said the “High Risk Intake Team” would cut the indictment backlog by one-third despite staffing problems.

The team would focus on violent crimes, repeat offenders, and cases specifically highlighted by police or prosecutors.

“I think if this is approved, we can comfortably expect to be able to resolve 2,000 to 2,500 cases of the 6,000,” Gonzales told commissioners in November before they approved his request without dissent on a voice vote.

Gonzales said the plan was temporary and would be revisited in six months later in May 2024.

In February 2023, Gonzales provided an update to county commissioners, saying the backlog at the time was reduced by 11%.

According to the DA’s Office, as of May 6, 2024, the backlog of cases stood at 4,945, which is a reduction of about 22%, short of Gonzales’ goal.

According to DA’s Office spokesman Pete Gallego, indictments are up by 42% over last year. From January 2023 to May 2, 2023, the Bexar County grand jury handed down 3, 759 indictments. Over the same period this year, 5,324 indictments have been issued.

As for the three cases mentioned earlier in this article, the DA’s Office does not comment on active cases. But they did release the following statement:

Some cases take longer to reach the indictment stage than others because every case is different. Sometimes the evidence in a case is straightforward and clear. Other times, a case is more time-consuming because it is complicated and complex. Every case investigation must be handled carefully because a person’s life or liberty may be at stake. Often, factors outside the control of an investigating agency – such as locating a witness or awaiting reports on issues ranging from forensic examinations of guns or other weapons to studies of a crime scene to causes of injury or death – also impact the time of an investigation.

Contrary to perception, our office’s focus is litigation. We depend on the investigating agencies, who are our partners in law enforcement, to provide us with the information and evidence necessary to bring the case to a grand jury and to trial.

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.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.

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