Kudos to former TCDLA employee Celeste Villarreal, whose stellar career has led to yet another honor. In September, Celeste was named president of the Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas (MABA-TX). An associate judge in Austin Municipal Court, she served as editor of the TCDLA Capital Litigation Update as well as a legislative lobby assistant and research clerk. Way to go, Celeste.
Kudos also to John Stickels, who secured a favorable ruling for a veteran in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth. The charges carried an offense level of 33—which meant a 135- to 168-month sentence. John managed a 36-month probation for him. Good work, John.
Emily Detoto won the first battle in a Houston case originally filed as a super felony, 25 to life, on two charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child, an 8-year-old female. After about 9 hours of deliberations over two days, the jury sent in a note indicating they were deadlocked on one charge, and that vote never changed. The judge then brought the jury in, and they returned one verdict of “not guilty” in the count alleging D performed oral sex on the “victim,” at which point Emily moved for and was granted a mistrial on the cause the jury deadlocked on. Emily reports that the DA refiled the case, set to be tried in November.
Randy Mack scored a directed verdict for his client on a burglary of a habitation charge in Nueces County this September. Senior Judge Manuel Banales granted the verdict after the State was unable to prove the identity of the defendant. Good work, Randy.
Robert Pelton and Jennifer Vielman, with the assistance of investigators Alan Steuart and Carolyn Kizzee, recently got a capital murder case dismissed in Harris County. Witnesses said the client admitted to the killing and was spending money saturated with the victim’s blood. After doing their own investigation and presenting their findings to the Assistant District Attorney, the DA’s Office fulfilled their oath to seek justice and dismissed the case. Congratulations on a job well done.