The Fourth Court of Appeals in San Antonio recently affirmed a 10-year sentence to a man who was tried in Del Rio for retaliation against a public servant, after repeatedly threatening to kill a police officer.
The memorandum of opinion, by Justice Rebeca C. Martinez, was filed on Sept. 4.
On Aug. 8, 2018, appellant Roberto Perez was convicted by a jury for retaliation against a public servant. Perez’s defense argued that his constitutional rights to due process and protection against cruel and unusual punishment under the federal and state constitutions were violated by the jury’s imposition of a 10-year sentence.
On June 12, 2017, Officer Darren Johnson responded to a disturbance at the Val Verde County Library. Johnson found Perez sitting beneath a tree holding a can of beer, court records show.
Johnson offered to drive Perez to a public park in the neighborhood where he could drink his beer without violating the law. Perez agreed and Johnson dropped Perez off at the park, records state.
Later that day, Johnson responded to another reported disturbance involving Perez at a park. While en route to the park, Johnson heard a report over the police radio concerning the discovery of damaged property at the library, records state.
Suspecting Perez may have caused the damage, Johnson detained Perez and placed him in the backseat of his patrol car. Johnson testified that Perez then became “agitated” and “aggressive,” records state.
Johnson smelled a strong odor of alcohol on Perez’s breath and informed Perez he was under arrest for public intoxication and would be taken into custody. According to Johnson, Perez became more aggressive after being told he was under arrest, records state.
Perez began making death threats toward Johnson while Johnson was transporting Perez to the police station. Johnson testified that Perez “started making threats that he wanted to kill (Officer Johnson) ... and kill (his) family,” and repeatedly said “I’ll kill you, I’ll kill you, I’ll kill your whole family,” court records state.
According to Johnson, Perez threatened to kill him and his family “approximately seven times,” including one final threat Perez made while staring at Officer Johnson: “I will kill you with my bare hands,” records show.
On Aug. 8, 2018, Perez was convicted by a jury for retaliation against a public servant and was sentenced to the statutory maximum of 10 years in prison.
The 4th Court of Appeals ruled that the sentence imposed to Perez does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
“As your district attorney, I am pleased with this decision from the 4th Court of Appeals. It not only confirms the jury’s finding of guilt but also the punishment that was assessed by the jury for Mr. Roberto Perez.
“Our community will not and should not tolerate these types of actions of threats against our law enforcement agencies. We thank everyone who was involved in the successful investigation and prosecution of this case,” 63rd District Attorney Michael Bagley said.