After nearly two years of bungled prosecutions, and for allegedly mishandling a matter against the suspect in one of America’s largest mass shootings, a Texas Democratic prosecutor is now facing suspension. Yvonne Rosales, El Paso County District attorney, resigns one day before a judge is scheduled to decide whether Rosales should be removed from office pending a trial.
Omar Carmona, El Paso’s criminal defense attorney, filed a petition to remove Rosales from office for incompetency.
Rosales was accused in the petition of failing to charge cases promptly; significant decreases in case filings; mishandling the Gabaldon murder trial; mishandling the 2019 El Paso Walmart Massacre case, and making bad faith representations to the court.
The petition stated that Rosales’ incompetency was demonstrated by her conduct and the conduct of her subordinates.
Carmona suggested Rosales should resign, rather than face trial. She stated, “I believe she will see the writing on the wall.”
In September Judge Tryon D. L. Lewis of Odessa allowed the petition to proceed.
Lewis scheduled a hearing for December 15, to determine if Rosales should be suspended in advance of a March 13 trial, which would then decide if she should be removed fully from office.
Tuesday was the day that the Democratic DA resigned. On Dec. 14, her resignation will take effect.
Rosales wrote to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that Salah George Al-Hanna, her first assistant, will take over all duties and responsibilities of acting DA.
Rosales wrote that it was an honor and a pleasure to serve as District Attorney for El Paso, Hudspeth, and Culberson Counties. So it is with a heavy soul that I send my resignation letter.”
According to the El Paso Times, it is now up to Abbott to appoint Rosales’ replacement to finish her term which ends in 2024.
Jo Anne Bernal, El Paso County attorney, said that Rosales technically retains all her powers and duties. She remains in office until the governor appoints her successor.
Rosales, who was formerly a family lawyer, has been involved in several scandals since she took office on Jan. 1, 2021. Although her career has been affected, it is possible her credibility and the safety of El Paso’s residents may have been also affected.
The Texas Ethics Commission found Rosales to have violated state law last December when her office was accused of misusing thousands of dollars in public money for self-promotion.
According to the El Paso Times, the El Paso County Auditor’s Office revealed that the Democratic DA had used forfeiture money to purchase T-shirts with her name and title on them. Rosales suggested that Rosales was being discriminated against by the auditor’s office in holding her accountable.
Rosales also accused Sam Medrano (state District Judge), of discriminating against Rosales based on her sex.
Patrick Crusius was accused of murdering 23 people at an El Paso Walmart in 2019. Crusius was convicted of 90 federal crimes, 45 being hate crimes. Rosales was the one to lose.
According to Texas Tribune, Roger Rodriguez (a municipal judge) allegedly posed as Alexander Gerhard Hoffman’s relative and used his widow’s cell phone to send details to the media and condemn Medrano.
Rodriguez claimed that he was “acting for the District Attorney’s Office” but that Rodriguez should not be “betrayed” by the family because he had “snipers all around”.
Rosales must appear before Medrano Wednesday, despite her resignation, to answer whether her office provided the email to the media in violation of the gag order.
Rosales reportedly repeatedly failed to stop the investigation into the gag order.
Even more significant, almost a thousand criminals were freed from misdemeanors or felonies because Rosales’ office failed to file charges in time.
El Paso Matters reports that the El Paso Public Defender’s Office sought 390 dismissals from Aug.15 to Aug. 18, and nearly 370 approvals because Rosales and her staff allegedly dragged their feet.
There were 15 first-degree felonies and 33 second-degree felonies among the dismissals. There were 65 third-degree felonies.
Between 2018 and 2020 14 people were freed under the provision that prohibits defendants from being held beyond 30 to 90 days if they aren’t ready for trial. This number jumped to 183 during Rosales’ first year as president.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Rosales’ and her office’s failure to file indictments resulted not only in case of dismissals but also in the loss of bond provisions meant to protect victims, such as warning them about their aggressors’ release.
Ivan Gabaldon is one of the alleged felons who was able to get away due to Rosales’ incompetence. He is accused of stabbing a 62-year-old man to death.
Just moments after Rosales stated that he wouldn’t object to Gabaldon being released on a personal recognizance bail, the senior division chief Curtis Cox demanded that the death penalty be applied against Gabaldon. This alleged plot to delay the trial went sour. Gabaldon was released.
Local attorneys and judges began to question whether the Democratic DA was capable of handling her most fundamental responsibilities as the top prosecutor in the region.
Rosales, despite her apparent ineptness, told KFOX-14 that justice would be served despite her apparent incompetence.
Here’s the resignation letter Rosales sent to Abbott.
Unsigned resignation letter from D.A. Yvonne Rosales addressed to Governor Greg Abbott. Rosales agreed to resign Dec. 14. pic.twitter.com/Ib9rR1ngIX
— Karla Draksler (@karladraxKTSM) November 29, 2022