State seeks gag order in 2-year-old murder case

The state of Texas is asking state District Judge Bobby Flores to issue a gag order in the cases of two men charged in the Dec. 15, 2017, shooting of a 20-year-old man.

Prosecutors filed the motion Tuesday, asking Flores to bar defense attorneys from continuing to grant interviews, comment or make statements to the media or to make any statements about the case on the internet or social media until the case concludes.

The Monitor has not interviewed defense attorneys Savannah Angel Gonzalez or Lucia Regalado, who represent 20-year-old Peter Isiah Uvalle, an Alamo resident accused of shooting and killing Jonathan Joseph Alcala during an argument over Xanax.

The newspaper has only published comments Gonzalez made in open court.

During an open hearing last Thursday, Gonzalez told Flores that she has been unable to review a Pharr Police Department Internal Affairs file about one of the investigators involved in Uvalle’s murder case.

The conversation between Gonzalez and Flores revealed in open court that the investigator had inappropriate contact with a witness in the case and was fired.

Flores said he has been reviewing the documentation and if any of it is material to the case, he would release it to her this week.

Uvalle’s trial is scheduled for next Monday.

However, there’s a chance it could be postponed.

During that Thursday court hearing, Gonzalez told Flores she had not reviewed information on a phone in evidence because the Secret Service is trying to crack its passcode, a slow process that involves trying a different combination of numbers once every 15 minutes so as not to lock the phone, a fact revealed by Assistant District Attorney Vance Wesley Gonzales.

The motion for the gag order also targets Omar Perez Garcia, a 28-year-old San Juan resident, who is also facing a murder charge for Alcala’s death.

The Monitor has also not interviewed, taken any statements or comments from Garcia’s attorney, Jesus Villalobos.

The state also argues that these statements the newspaper has not taken violate the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Conduct.

Another filing by prosecutors on Tuesday reveals that Alcala and Uvalle were involved with Facebook group chats for local drug dealers and buyers, along with allegations that Uvalle committed a series of aggravated robberies of members of the Facebook group chats.

As for the defendants, authorities allege Garcia drove a truck that Uvalle was a passenger in when the shooting occurred.

A third man at the crime scene who told police he shot at Garcia and Uvalle, 22-year-old Pharr resident Santiago Alonso Aguirre, is charged with tampering with physical evidence, two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and a count manufacturing and delivering a controlled substance.

All of the men have entered not guilty pleas to the charges.