Convict in ‘Edinburg Massacre’ successfully has state appeal re-opened

A 40-year-old San Juan man who has spent 15 years on death row for his role in one of the Rio Grande Valley’s most heinous crimes is coming back to Hidalgo County.

A federal magistrate judge ruled Monday that Rodolfo Alvarez Medrano’s capital murder case must be re-opened in state court so that the man can challenge the state’s “gang expert,” who has since been stripped of his law enforcement license after being convicted of abuse of official capacity and being arrested for having oral sex with a woman in custody for robbery.

Medrano was sentenced to death in 2005 for his role in the “Edinburg Massacre” where multiple men in 2003 stormed two rural homes and shot six men to death while attempting to steal money and drugs.

The man filed the writ of habeas corpus with McAllen federal court back in 2017.

“Petitioner was not present at the scene of the six murders, which were committed by multiple co-defendants,” the report and recommendation stated. “At trial, the State introduced Petitioner’s recorded statement admitting that he was a sergeant in the Tri-City Bombers gang.”

Medrano provided “assault-type rifles” to his fellow gang members and was convicted under the law of parties.

At his trial, former Edinburg Police Department detective Robert Alvarez testified that the Tri-City Bombers had a “green light” on the Texas Chicano Brothers, a rival gang.

“He testified that the two gangs had a ‘green light,’ which is a standing order to ‘represent’ the gang every time they see each other,” the report and recommendation stated. “He explained that the green light gives gang members authority, without asking permission, to ‘do whatever is necessary’ to represent their gang, including murder.”

Medrano claimed Alvarez’s testimony was false as to his credentials, qualifications, training, his testimony’s substance and that it exaggerated his culpability.

Alvarez lost his job and license after being indicted on three counts of misuse of official information, two counts of violation of civil rights of a person in custody, one count of theft by a public servant and two counts of tampering with governmental records.

The former officer was accused of using a police report number to have Hidalgo County prosecutors subpoena phone and text messages of a woman he was having an affair with; of filing phony papers to collect overtime while at that woman’s house; and of having oral sex with a woman in Edinburg police custody, according to Medrano’s federal appeal.

Alvarez entered a guilty plea to misuse of official information and was sentenced to three years probation, the appeal stated.

“Petitioner points out that Alvarez was an Edinburg police officer at the time of trial, but he was later ordered to surrender his peace officer’s license after pleading guilty to misuse of official information,” the report and recommendation stated. “Petitioner’s assertion that Alvarez lied about certain aspects of his qualifications as a gang expert appears to be supported by undisputed documentation.”

The federal order places Medrano’s federal appeal on hold while his case is re-opened in state court so that he can exhaust his claim attacking Alvarez’s testimony.

The court ordered Medrano to initiate state court remedies within 30 days.

As of Wednesday, court records did not reflect that Medrano’s case had been re-opened.