NewsLocal News


Joseph Tejeda pleads guilty to murder of Breanna Wood

Joseph Tejeda.jpg
Posted at 1:56 PM, Aug 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-14 19:30:55-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Nearly seven years after her death, Joseph Tejeda pleaded guilty Monday to the murder of Breanna Wood.

During a Monday hearing, Tejeda pleaded guilty to murder, burglary with the intent of aggravated robbery, and assault on a public servant.

The plea agreement includes 25 years for murder, 20 years for burglary, and 20 years for assault of a public servant. These sentences are to run concurrently and he receives credit for time served, meaning he could spend 18 years in prison.

The state also agreed to dismiss Tejeda's charge of evading arrest in a motor vehicle and dismiss the charge of tampering with evidence against Tejeda's mother, Rosalinda Musella.

Fallon Wood, Breanna Wood's mother, choked back tears as she spoke during Monday's hearing, saying she would never forgive Tejeda.

"I had to put my anger and hate aside," Fallon Wood said as she addressed Tejeda. "This plea deal was not for you. This was for Breanna. Finally to let her soul be at peace and rest."

Tejeda is one of seven people originally charged in connection with the 2016 killing. He was set to go to trial on August 20.

Wood was reported missing by her mother Fallon Wood, on October 18, 2016. After a tip from a Nueces County Jail inmate, authorities found her body in a box wrapped in plastic at an abandoned house off State Highway 666 and State Highway 1833.

Tejeda, Wood's ex-boyfriend, was arrested and charged with capital murder.

According to a police report, an inmate claimed Tejeda told him he shot Wood in the back of her head, broke both her arms, and abused her corpse after she was dead.

An autopsy corroborated those claims.

breanna wood.jpg

Prosecutors announced that seven people, including Tejeda were indicted in connection with Breanna Wood's death. Among them is Sandra Vasquez, who is charged with capital murder and engaging in organized criminal activity. Vasquez also faces an aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon charge.

It is a case that has been fraught with delays following the COVID-19 pandemic, recusal of the Nueces County District Attorney's Office, the original judge, and a request by Tejeda for new defense counsel.

In December 2021, the DA's office asked to be removed from all cases related to Wood's murder.

"I fully admit that this case could have been handled better, should have been handled better, from the very beginning," wrote Nueces County First Assistant District Attorney Angelica Hernandez in a letter to Fallon Wood in December 2021.

That recusal document, which said Fallon Wood had threatened civil litigation against the DA's Office, judge, and Corpus Christi Police Department, resulted in the recusal of District Court Judge Jack Pulcher.

The Texas State Attorney General's Office took over the prosecution of the case with visiting Judge Manuel J. Banales presiding.

In April 2022, in an exclusive interview with KRIS 6 News, Fallon Wood said Nueces County First Assistant. District Attorney Angelica Hernandez asked for help sorting through pre-trial discovery in the case in December 2022— she said she jumped at the chance to help, and finally see someone pay for her daughter's death.

Wood said she had no idea what Hernandez had asked of her could potentially have the opposite effect.

“She did not say that it would jeopardize the case, but she did say, ‘Just keep this between us,” she said.

Wood said she did what any mother would.

“I wanted to do what I needed to do to help the DA’s department to get prepared or ready for my daughter’s case,” she said. “I sat on the floor for three days sorting all the interviews. Everything from each name, from all seven names.”

Attorneys for Tejeda at that time asked that the case against him be dropped, claiming prosecutorial misconduct after it came to light that the Nueces County District Attorney's Office granted Fallon access to case files.

Judge Banales sided with the state, refusing to dismiss the case.

"I do not find that whatever incompetence, negligence or carelessness may have occurred — that’d been done by the DA’s office, in this county, on this case — it does not rise to the level that requires this court to dismiss the indictment," Banales said.

Sandra Vasquez's trial is scheduled for later this year.

KRIS 6 News tried to speak with Fallon Wood and prosecutors following the hearing, but they remain under a gag order due to Vasquez's pending case.