EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A Juárez resident now faces the death penalty on a capital murder charge over a murder during an alleged paid sexual encounter in February.
The District Attorney’s Office filed its intention to pursue the death penalty against Ivan Gabaldon, 20, on Monday, a week before the deadline to make the decision.
The decision to pursue the capital murder penalty has drawn criticism from state representative Joe Moody of the 78th District.
“For Texas to kill, it has to prove the person is such a future danger that locking them up forever won’t protect us,” Moody wrote on Twitter. “Yet, here, before threatening the death penalty, we have the prosecutor agreeing this guy should be out of jail until a new indictment.”
The Juárez resident’s case goes to a jury trial on December 2 and a final hearing will be held on November 29.
Gabaldon is accused of killing Juan Garcia Flores, 63, earlier this year when the two initially met for an alleged paid sexual encounter. Gabaldon’s attorneys claim he was defending himself when Garcia allegedly began doing sexual acts to Gabaldon that he did not consent to.
I was reluctant to comment on this, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it all week. It’s wrong, and I have to speak out. This kind of behavior is part of why I’m against the #DeathPenalty. The state killing someone should never be pushed as a cheap tactic. #txlege 1/3 https://t.co/U9o9fWv2nI— Joe Moody (@moodyforelpaso) November 22, 2021
Gabaldon was jailed in the El Paso County Detention Facility on a $1 million bond on a felony murder charge. The District Attorney’s Office sought a capital murder charge from a grand jury last Thursday.
Last week, the DA’s office offered to let Gabaldon out of jail on a personal recognizance bond when prosecutors originally asked the court to allow for more time in the case. Prosecutors say they have not located all witnesses in the case they intend on calling and have not obtained results from forensic testing.
But when defense attorneys for Gabaldon and District Judge Alyssa Perez signaled they would not support the request, prosecutor Curtis Cox announced his office would seek a capital murder charge for Gabaldon and consider the death penalty for him.
Gabaldon’s defense attorneys have criticized the DA’s office handling of the case and for asking for more time.
Defense attorneys say seven prosecutors have overseen the case over the last eight months and say the DA’s office has not subpoenaed witnesses.