Murder case complicated by victim’s family’s lack of cooperation

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The prosecutor handling the case of a nephew accused of murdering his uncle said she has been unable to get the victim’s family to speak with her.

First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp said at a pretrial hearing this week in Bowie County that the family of a man allegedly shot to death earlier this year by his nephew has been unwilling to speak with her office regarding the case. Antonio Labrada, 30, was allegedly killed in the first hour of March 2 by his nephew, Melchor Hernandez.

Hernandez, who is reportedly in the U.S. without authorization, appeared before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell with Texarkana attorney Shorty Barrett for a pretrial hearing this week. Crisp said that if her office is unable to discuss the case with Labrada’s family, she may have to make decisions, such as regarding a plea offer, without consulting them.

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At an earlier hearing, Crisp said that Hernandez currently has a hold for Immigration, Customs and Enforcement because he may not legally be in the U.S. and that immigration status concerns may be at the center of Labrada’s family’s unwillingness to speak to the DA’s office.

Barrett said he will make an effort to reach the family and put them in touch with Crisp. Tidwell scheduled the case for a pretrial hearing Sept.`23.

Hernandez, 23, allegedly spoke to his uncle on the phone a few minutes before midnight March 1, according to a probable cause affidavit. Labrada was reportedly at his home drinking with friends when he took the call. Labrada allegedly grabbed his keys and headed to Hernandez’ residence on Summerhill Road in Texarkana, Texas, telling others that Hernandez wanted Labrada to pay a debt, gotten angry and asked for a fight. Labrada drove from his home on Waterman Street to Hernandez’ home in the 2300 block of Summerhill in the first hour of March 2.

Witnesses reported that Labrada was on top of Hernandez and punching him in the face before the fight ended. Labrada allegedly laughed at the sight of Hernandez pointing a .22 rifle at him right before he started “clutching his chest.”

Labrada died at the scene. Hernandez is facing five to 99 years or life in prison if convicted of murder. He is currently being held in the Bowie County jail.

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