Hunt County
7:47 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Attorney seeks delay in start of murder trial

Arturo Vega
Arturo Vega
Credit Provided Photo

The attorney for Arturo Aguilar Vega is seeking a delay in the scheduled start of the defendant’s capital murder trial later this month.

Vega has pleaded not guilty in connection with the 2011 death of 2-year-old Brandon Herrera in Campbell.

Defense counsel Dennis Davis is seeking a continuance in the case until after a hearing can be held over whether Herrera’s autopsy report can be admitted into evidence.

A status hearing regarding the case against Vega is scheduled Friday in the 354th District Court. Jury selection in Vega’s trial is set to begin August 20.

New indictments against Vega and Gabriela Ortiz were released March 28 and include multiple potential causes of death for Brandon Herrera.

Vega and Ortiz both remain in custody in the Hunt County Jail, each in lieu of $2 million bond.

The Hunt County District Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty for Vega and for Ortiz, should they be convicted of capital murder involving Herrera’s death in July 2011.

Davis filed a motion with the court July 29, seeking a continuance in the trial, until after a hearing can be undertaken to decide whether to exclude the testimony and autopsy report of Medical Examiner Jodi McClain. Davis said he would be unable to proceed with the hearing until December.

“Mr. Aguilar Vega’s constitutional rights will be imperiled if he is forced to begin trial without knowing the extent the State will be allowed to present to the jury the grossly inadequate work of Dr. McClain and, subsequently, under which of the seven alleged causes of death the State will be able to proceed,” Davis said in the motion.

The original indictments filed against the pair claimed Herrera died as the result of either blunt force trauma, choking/strangling or smothering.

The new indictments include additional potential causes of Herrera’s death, including blunt force trauma, chronic blunt force trauma, choking/strangling, smothering, causing the victim to be dehydrated, causing Herrera to suffer malnutrition, suffocation and/or arrhythmia.

Ortiz does not currently have a trial date set in the case.