EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – In an unprecedented legal proceeding, elected District Attorney Yvonne Rosales invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on the stand in the Walmart shooting gag order case Thursday.
Rosales was ordered to appear Thursday after Judge Sam Medrano issued a show-cause hearing after she failed to appear in a hearing on Wednesday.
The dramatic events unfolded before a packed courtroom when Rosales arrived with her attorneys, Richard Roman and Matthew DeKoatz. Despite several objections from DeKoatz, Rosales was sworn in and ordered to testify by Medrano.
Her appearance was the first time Rosales was seen in public since the July 1 hearing in Medrano’s court, where a gag order was placed on the case. Rosales disappeared from public view after the hearing, only appearing via Zoom during a County Commissioners’ Court meeting requesting payment for legal fees in her removal trial and a hearing to determine if Medrano should be removed from the Walmart case.
The defense team for the alleged Walmart shooter began by questioning if Rosales had knowledge or involvement in her office’s alleged e-mails to have the SENTRI visa of Rosa Valdez Hofmann, the widow of Walmart victim Alexander Hoffmann, revoked. Rosales invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Rosales was asked whether she conspired with Vinton Municipal Judge Roger Rodriguez to intimidate and harass the Hoffmann family. She once again invoked her Fifth Amendment rights.
Despite more than half a dozen questions to Rosales, she did not answer any of them and invoked her Fifth Amendment rights.
In a heated exchange, DeKoatz also questioned why the media was seated in the jury box inside Medrano’s court. The judge advised DeKoatz that he placed media in the jury box following the DA’s request on July 1 to allow members of her staff and more than 40 members of Walmart victims’ families into his court.
Rosales was released from the court after her testimony, and defense attorney Mark Spencer was allowed to read a litany of questions he intended to ask former District Attorney Curtis Cox on Wednesday when he also invoked his Fifth Amendment Rights in nearly a dozen questions on the stand before Medrano stopped the questioning.
Stevens appeared to lay out a line of questioning laying the groundwork for a conspiracy between the District Attorney, former ADA Cox, and Rodriguez, who was allegedly acting on Rosales’ behalf.
He repeatedly referenced an e-mail sent by Curtis Cox to federal agencies allegedly requesting the revocation of Valdez’s SENTRI Visa, which resulted in her being detained for nearly eight hours on the day of a hearing originally scheduled in Medrano’s court in September. KTSM has not reviewed the alleged e-mails referenced by Stevens in his questioning.
Valdez has yet to have her SENTRI visa returned. In an interview with KTSM Wednesday night, her attorney Justin Underwood pleaded with federal officials to “make it right” and return her visa, which would allow her to enter the United States.
The Hoffmanns appeared in court Wednesday only after a Justice of the Peace and Constable escorted them across the border.
This story will be updated.