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Doctor has criminal case dismissed due to lost evidence

Dr. Juan Villarreal has case dismissed against him
Posted at 8:05 AM, Feb 07, 2023

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — KRIS 6 News was the first to report that in October 2018, Calallen OB-GYN Dr. Juan Villarreal was indicted on 14 counts of sexual assault by 14 alleged victims and former patients.

In June 2022, a newly appointed prosecutor on the case discovered evidence was missing in the case. It prompted defense attorneys for Villarreal to file motions to dismiss the case.

On Monday, the defense was granted their motion to dismiss the sexual assault allegations with prejudice, based on the negligent loss of evidence as it pertains to the Richard Miles Act.

"He’s just very relieved, he’s very humbled, as to what happened," co-defense attorney Ron Barroso said. "He’s maintained his innocence all along. And so, hopefully he can put this thing behind him.”

KRIS 6 News was the first to report to you in August 2022 that the Nueces County District Attorney's Office was missing "a box or two” of evidence in the case. No one knows what is missing, how much is missing or when it went missing. That’s what led to the case dismissal.

Prosector from the DA's office, Will Greenlee said they have an in-take log that is supposed to have what is in each case, but no inventory list of each item.

The Richard Miles Act requires a law enforcement officer to sign off that they have turned over all materials in a case to the prosecuting agency. The prosecutor in turn must give that material over to the defense.

Corpus christi Police Department (CCPD) Detective Julio Ramos testified, in a September 2022 hearing, that he did sign off on giving everything to prosecutors.

"The District Attorney's Office lost evidence," Barroso said. "We don't know what that evidence was. We don't know whether it's exculpatory, it could've helped us. It could've helped us during a trial."

“They knew they didn’t have all the evidence that they could not provide a fair trial to the accused," Lisa Greenberg said, co-defense attorney. "And so, they cowardly let the judge do what they should’ve done.”

Several prosecutors have been assigned this case over the last three plus years.

Greenlee and Douglas Norman are only the most recently appointed and only discovered that evidence was missing. They argued against the motion saying negligently losing evidence shouldn't be considered bad faith.

As it pertains to the Richard Miles Act, Norman said it shouldn't apply because the lost evidence is not in their possession, as the law would state is a requirement to be applied.

“If it’s been lost it’s no longer in our possession," said Norman. "And, I don’t mean to make light of this. I think it’s our duty to fall on our sword and say we made a mistake.”

Greenlee said the office started a hunt for missing evidence on June 30, 2022. It wasn’t until defense council asked about the evidence on Aug. 2, 2022, they were informed it was missing.

Greenlee defended his actions by saying when a discovery like that is made, they don't immediately jump to conclusions and tell the defense council. They looked everywhere before confirming it was lost.

Defense attorneys hopes the case brings change at the DA's office in how they log evidence.

“Well if it doesn’t, they’re not listening," said Barroso. "I would think something’s going to have to happen.”

Before the motion was granted, the prosecutors dismissed five of the charges because they passed the statute of limitations.

Defense council previously filed a motion to dismiss when they discovered the missing evidence in Aug. 2022. Then-sitting Judge Carlos Valdez never made a ruling. Both parties re-argued their cases for visiting Judge Robert Pate, who made the ultimate decision.

Because the case was dismissed with prejudice, the DA's office cannot re-file it as is. They can, however, appeal the decision to grant the motion to dismiss.

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