Closing Arguments Underway in Tax-Assessor Collector’s Trial
CORPUS CHRISTI - Closing arguments took place in the Cameron County tax-assessor collector's trial Wednesday. The jury was dismissed to begin deliberation.
Tony Yzaguirre Jr.'s attorney, Eduardo Lucio, had the chance to cross examine the state's witness that testified about his client's bank records. According to the testimony, the alleged bribes that Yzaguirre took from the DPS informant were not reflected in the bank records.
Lucio also made five motions to try and have the remaining bribery charges thrown out, citing insufficient evidence by the state to prove their case. The judge denied all the motions to dismiss any more charges, stating the jury would make the decision.
The judge told jurors it will be about a 40-page charge, which they would go over after closing arguments.
The jurors sent a note out before 5:00 p.m. after they began deliberations. They asked that any Spanish video and audio recordings be given to them in an English format. The judge replied that wouldn’t be possible and then gave the option to continue deliberations on Thursday. They were dismissed.
Prosecutor Kristine Trejo addressed the jury first going count by count, telling the jury that the state proved its burden, beyond a reasonable doubt. She told jurors “bribery is a crime of secrecy” and that’s why Yzaguirre was meeting ineligible car dealers behind closed doors in his office and taking their money in exchange for titles.
Trejo told the jury she’s asking them to find him guilty on all 15 counts because Yzaguirre betrayed the public’s trust and violated the law he took an oath to upload.
Defense co-counselor Myles Garza then addressed the jury. He focused on the issue of the state’s key witness Mel Sosa, being a car dealer. He insisted that because he was acting as such, as defined by law, Yzaguirre’s office had no duty to check for documents required of other citizens.
Lucio started his closing arguments telling jurors that he was quote "ripped" from his family when he was arrested for crimes he allegedly didn't commit. Lucio went on to point out the various times that the state’s witnesses testified about not knowing certain car transfer laws. He told the jury there were doubts brought up that no one paid attention to, and at most Yzaguirre’s arrest resulted from “a bunch of investigators that didn’t care enough” to assure they knew what they were doing.
He asked the jury to acquit him of all charges.
Lead prosecutor Peter Gillman had the last word before the jury was dismissed. He apologized to the jury for the mistakes made that caused him to have to dismiss some of the counts against the tax-assessor collector. But he went on to argue that despite that, Yzaguirre is guilty.
He told jurors Yzaguirre is responsible for everything that happens in his office and not his employees as the defense suggested.
Gillman told the jury that Yzaguirre’s actions affect them, not just people in Cameron County. He insisted Yzaguirre knew he was breaking the law to help a friend. He asked for guilty verdicts.
The jury will reconvene on Thursday at 9 a.m.