Northeast Tarrant

High-profile Trump fan is daughter of man convicted in Southlake cartel slaying

A screen grab from Donald Trump’s campaign’s Facebook page shows Miriam Cepeda, in red skirt
A screen grab from Donald Trump’s campaign’s Facebook page shows Miriam Cepeda, in red skirt

The daughter of a man convicted in the high-profile slaying of a Southlake cartel lawyer is making national news this month as a rare Hispanic supporter of Donald Trump.

Miriam Cepeda, 24, who testified in her father’s trial in May, was featured Wednesday in a CNN report: “Why this Latina campaigns for Donald Trump on the border.”

In the piece, CNN described Cepeda, a graduate student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg, as “the daughter of an undocumented immigrant.”

The report details why Cepeda supports Trump, despite his controversial comments about Mexican immigrants and his plans to build a wall along the U.S. border.

But the report doesn’t specifically mention her father, Jose Luis Cepeda-Cortes, 60, who was convicted in a Fort Worth federal court of stalking and conspiring to kill Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa, a cartel lawyer fatally shot at Southlake Town Square in 2013.

Cepeda-Cortes’ cousin Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Cepeda, 59, was also convicted in the trial. Ledezma-Cepeda’s adult son pleaded guilty in the case before it went to trial.

All three men are awaiting sentencing this year.

Miriam Cepeda hinted more at her father’s case in a CBS News “Latinos for Trump” report this month.

In an interview with reporter Elaine Quijano, she said she has “family members from Mexico coming to the United States, doing what they were ‘paid to do’ and going back.”

“What does that mean exactly? Illegal activity?” Quijano asked.

“Illegal activity as far as maybe … as far as maybe murdering somebody,” Miriam Cepeda said. “Right now, sad to say this, I have my father sitting in jail.”

And on one occasion — a CNN Facebook video viewed 727,000 times and shared by Trump’s official account — her brother used the spotlight to bash the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted their father’s case.

In the CNN Facebook video from June 15, Miriam Cepeda’s brother Joey Cepeda tells the crowd at a “Pachanga 4 Trump” mixer that Trump is going to “clean up” the Justice Department.

He then calls out Joshua Burgess, the Fort Worth-based assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the Southlake cartel murder conspiracy case.

“He feels he has the license to lie. He indicted our father based on lies,” Joey Cepeda told the crowd. “Our father is innocent. You guys are indicting him on some conspiracy charges that were frivolous. … If you look into this, Mr. Trump, you’re going to expose a big trail of what else is going on in this U.S. Department of Justice.”

Cepeda-Cortes’ attorneys filed a motion on May 27 to set aside the jury’s guilty verdict, arguing that the prosecution lacked direct evidence proving that Cepeda-Cortes knew that Guerrero was going to be killed.

U.S. District Judge Terry Means has not ruled on the motion.

Cepeda-Cortes is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 22.

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