TEXARKANA, Texas —A Bowie County prosecutor expressed frustration Monday with a lack of contact with a murder victim's family.
First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp told 202nd District Judge John Tidwell her office's attempts to speak with the family of a man allegedly shot to death earlier this year by his nephew, Melchor Hernandez, have been unsuccessful.
The family's reluctance to discuss the case is apparently connected to fear that they could be deported if they speak to law enforcement.
Hernandez, 23, appeared at a pretrial hearing Monday with his lawyer, Shorty Barrett of Texarkana, and an interpreter by his side.
Crisp told the judge that she may have to move forward with plea negotiations or a trial without input from the family of Antonio Labrada.
Barrett said he is attempting to contact the family and will work with the D.A.'s office to effect a meeting.
Hernandez allegedly shot Labrada during a dispute March 2.
Labrada, 30, was allegedly at his house on Waterman Street in Texarkana, Texas, drinking with friends when he answered a call from his nephew shortly before midnight March 1, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Hernandez allegedly wanted Labrada to pay back some money he believed his uncle owed him and the conversation became heated. Labrada allegedly told his wife that Hernandez wanted him to come to his residence on Summerhill Road in Texarkana, Texas, to fight.
Labrada drove to Hernandez' home and the two became engaged in a physical altercation. A witness in the residence told officers she observed Labrada on top of Hernandez punching him in the head.
Labrada allegedly walked away from Hernandez, ending the physical confrontation.
"Antonio (Labrada) began to laugh, and (the witness) turned around and observed Melchor (Hernandez) with a .22 caliber rifle, pointing it at Antonio," the affidavit states.
Labrada allegedly clutched his chest and said, "He hit me," before falling to the ground. A rifle and a cellphone believed to belong to Hernandez were recovered from the Summerhill residence. Labrada died at the scene.
Hernandez faces five to 99 years or life in prison if convicted of felony murder.