FORT WORTH — Two brothers who were accused of murder in the Dec. 9 fatal shooting of a 22-year-old man have been no-billed by a Tarrant County grand jury.
The grand jury declined to indict Gabriel Cedillo, 22, and Rigoberto Cedillo, 26, on a murder charge in connection with the death of Joe Vasquez. They also declined to indict the brothers on a charge of attempted murder in connection with the shooting of Abelardo Avila, who was shot in the head and remains hospitalized and nonresponsive.
Because grand jurors’ deliberations are secret, attorneys could not comment on their decision. Both sides agreed, however, that there were problems in the case.
“One concern is that there is no witness accounts of what happened, other than from the defendants and their families’ point of view,” said prosecutor Jennifer Tourje. “The physical evidence did not disprove the defendants’ story.”
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Albert Perez, Gabriel Cedillo’s defense attorney, said he assumed it was self-defense.
“I suspect that self-defense was a major issue since this happened at my client’s home while he was there with his family,” Perez said. “This is what grand juries are for. It worked again.”
Lesa Pamplin, Rigoberto Cedillo’s defense attorney, said: “We are very pleased. We knew it was a self-defense issue from Day One.”
The Cedillo brothers were accused of shooting Vasquez and Avila as they sat in a pickup in an alley behind the Cedillos’ house near Northwest 29th Street and Kearney Avenue.
Police have said that one of the defendants’ cars had been burglarized and that he suspected that the men in the pickup were preparing to steal something. A confrontation led to the defendants getting into their own vehicle and chasing the pickup. During that chase, police have said, gunshots were fired but no one was hit, and it was unclear who fired at whom.
Police have said that, at some point during the chase, Vasquez and Avila started pursuing the Cedillo brothers, who returned to their house. Vasquez and Avila showed up again later in the alley and there was another exchange of gunfire, and that is when Vasquez and Avila were shot, police have said.
The brothers were arrested at the scene on other charges, but not initially in Vasquez’s death because there appeared to be self-defense issues. They were later arrested and accused of murder after information surfaced that they might have been the aggressors, police have said.
While the grand jury declined to indict the brothers on the most serious charges, their legal troubles are not over. The grand jury indicted Gabriel Cedillo on a charge of possession of a prohibited weapon on allegations that he used a sawed-off shotgun that night. And last week, Gabriel Cedillo was indicted in connection with an unrelated robbery. The charge carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison.
Rigoberto Cedillo, meanwhile, has been indicted on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was also indicted in March on a charge of tampering with physical evidence on allegations that he picked up the shotgun shells while police were investigating, officials said. Because of his criminal history, he faces two to 20 years in prison.