A gang member warned a witness in a 2016 homicide case “you know what happens to snitches, they end up in ditches,” and several other witnesses have been threatened as recently as a few weeks ago, according to court documents.
The witnesses are in the case against 20-year-old gang member Joe Angel Lopez, who is scheduled to go on trial Tuesday in Criminal District Court No. 4 on a murder charge.
Jury selection began Monday, and testimony is scheduled to begin Tuesday.
The threats against witnesses began a few days after the fatal shooting April 24, 2016, the documents say.
The documents say Lopez made the snitches comment April 28, 2016, and then a few days later the witness was repeatedly asked, “You don’t know anything, right?”
The threats came again last month, according to court documents.
An arsonist burned a different witness’s car June 15, and an attempt was made to set fire to a home of yet another witness June 20, the documents stated.
Lopez is accused of fatally shooting 23-year-old Bianca Jimenez of Fort Worth after a dispute in a neighborhood on Selene Street in Fort Worth. He was arrested a few days after the shooting and remains free on $45,000 bail.
While in custody, Lopez told an inmate in the Tarrant County Jail his intention was “to scare her and not kill her,” according to court documents obtained last week by the Star-Telegram.
The Fort Worth man has not been charged with retaliation in the cases involving the witnesses, but he faces a charge of delivery/manufacturing of a controlled substance (methamphetamine), according to Tarrant County criminal court records.
Neither Lopez nor David Owens of Fort Worth, Lopez’s attorney, could be reached for comment. Prosecutors declined to comment. The Star-Telegram is not identifying the witnesses for their safety.
“I’m scared that I will not get justice for my daughter,” said Cesar Macias, of Euless, Jimenez’s father. “The fact he has had over a year of freedom makes me extremely disappointed in the justice system.”
Court records state Lopez has a drug problem. He possessed, sold and ingested methamphetamine on a daily basis before Jimenez was killed on April 24, 2016, according to the court documents.
And the 20-year-old continued to be involved with the drug after his release from jail in May 2016, the documents state.
Lopez kept methamphetamine and proceeds from its sale in a safe at his Fort Worth home, according to court records.
Before the fatal shooting, Lopez also kept a handgun in the safe or hanging from a string in a room, the documents state.
An arrest warrant affidavit provided these details on the shooting:
A friend of Bianca Jimenez’s told Detective J.T. Rhoden that she and Jimenez, who had been drinking at a bar, drove to the home of Jimenez’s ex-boyfriend, Joseph David Rodriguez, in the 1400 block of Selene Street on the morning of April 24, 2016.
After Jimenez keyed his car, she blew the horn until Rodriguez came out, and then drove away. Rodriguez jumped into his girlfriend’s vehicle and chased Jimenez and her friend through the neighborhood.
The friend said that as they drove around, someone fired a shot at them. Rodriguez later told his girlfriend that he only pointed a gun at Jimenez.
Jimenez and her friend went back to Rodriguez’s home, passing Lopez in a car on the street. Lopez leaned out of a window and began arguing with Jimenez, the friend told the detective.
Lopez got out, walked up to Jimenez’s vehicle and told Jimenez not to come back to that street or he would shoot her. Lopez got back into his vehicle, according to the affidavit
The friend told the detective that Jimenez said something like “whatever,” and a shot was fired from Lopez’s vehicle.
Police found Jimenez lying in the street with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. She died a few hours later at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth.