Underwood says laws broken in alleged harassment and threats toward Walmart shooting victim's family
EL PASO, Texas (KTEP) - Justin Underwood, a private El Paso attorney, has handled countless cases as a prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer.
But he never thought he’d have to defend the family of a victim of a mass shooting from alleged crimes by the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office.
“You make a plea to law enforcement and you say, if nothing is done here because of what happened to these people, what is to deter someonefrom doing something similar to somebody else," Underwood said in an interview with KTEP.
For months, Underwood was appointed to represent Thomas and Alexander Hoffman, and their mother Rosa Maria Valdez Garcia. The three are family of Alexander Gerhard Hoffman, a victim in the Walmart mass shooting.
Thomas Hoffman and Valdez revealed details of their interactions with DA Yvonne Rosales' associate Roger Rodriguez during court testimony last week. They said they began recording conversations with Rodriguez after becoming suspicious of him.
Both affirmed Rodriguez allegedly harassed and threatened them. Rodriguez allegedly told them he had snipers everywhere and showed off his gun at a restaurant.
In August, local media received a mysterious email from Valdez's email with her son Alexander's signature. The email attacked one of DA Yvonne Rosales' political foes and District Court Judge Sam Medrano, who oversees the Walmart case.
The email came after Judge Medrano issued a gag order on all individuals involved in the Walmart case. And, the message prompted an inquiry into whether Medrano's gag order had been violated.
KTEP questioned the origin of the email when a member of the Hoffman family said it could not have come from their relatives.
Hoffman and Valdez testified Rodriguez and his wife Anne were behind the email.
The Hoffman family and about 40 other Walmart shooting victims and families of victims met Rodriguez after a July hearing in the case. He was presented as a member of the DA's prosecutorial team on the case, according to testimony by Hoffman and Valdez.
Rodriguez was never an employee of the DA's office, according to county personnel records. He met with the family several times and spoke with them over the phone after the July hearing, according to court documents.
Underwood says DA Yvonne Rosales and her office should be held accountable for Rodriguez's interactions with the Hoffman family. And, that the allegations made by the Hoffman family imply criminal offenses.
KTEP discussed the Hoffman's experiences with Rodriguez in an interview with Underwood at his office in Downtown El Paso. He talked about the Hoffman family being found of not violating Judge Medrano's gag order and turning in recordings with Rodriguez to agents with the FBI's El Paso office.