POSTED: Tuesday, November 9, 2010 - 7:20pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - 10:23am
It took police and the district attorney's office almost an entire year to indict police officer Mark Munoz in a sexual assault case. Today we ask attorney Jaime Esparza why the case wasn't filed until October, when police presented their case in March.
"There is actually no normal time frame," Esparza said. "Each case is different."
We asked Esparza why, once police presented their investigation to his office, it took seven months to indict police officer Mark Munoz.
"We were reviewing the case of course, subpoenaing grand jury records, still talking to witnesses."
Last November, one woman filed a police report accusing Munoz of sexually assaulting her while she unconscious.
Investigators found vomit, urine, and half-digested pills in her car. The victim says a rape kit was administered, where they found that she had vaginal abrasions. But she says a toxicology test was never done, despite telling police she felt like she may have been drugged. Police presented their findings to the DA's office in March - five months after the victim went to police. Then, the DA's office didn't indict Munoz until mid-October - seven months later.
"I've reviewed what the prosecutors have done in this case and they were working on the case and when they felt it was right to make a presentation to a grand jury, they did so," Esparza said.
Esparza also says despite being on the same side of the courtroom as the police, his office will not bring in a special prosecutor in the case of Munoz, or any other case against a police officer.
"It's true that we work with a police officers on a daily basis but it's also our job to prosecute all crimes in the community," Esparza.
He says he can't remember a case involving an accused police officer where they did bring in a special prosecutor. Munoz' trial has been set for February, but there's no guarantee that his trial will actually start then, because other cases could be scheduled for that day, too. Esparza says even though the defendant is a cop, his office won't treat it any differently.
"It will be treated just as any other case," Esparza said.
Munoz was taken off foot patrol last month and is still on the force. We called several district attorneys offices in Texas and found that San Antonio and Fort Worth also do not hire special prosecutors when the defendant is a cop.