SAN ANTONIO — Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales is quelling community concerns sparked after an attorney for Christoper Davila said this week that he was seeking a plea agreement.
Davila, who is charged in connection with the death of his then-girlfriend's son, King Jay Davila, earlier this year, appeared in court Tuesday. His attorney, Robert Behrens, told members of the media Davila was open to taking a plea deal.
“He is prepared to take an offer if he thinks it’s reasonable, and so far we don’t have a solid offer," Behrens said. "So once we get one we can start working on it from there."
After the hearing, groups advocating for justice for King Jay took to social media, urging the public to contact Gonzales's office.
"Remind him that we the people elected him and we expect him to do his job! We are SAN ANTONIO and we don’t settle for the murder of children!" one post from King's Angels founder Jasmine McGill read.
Gonzales said while there haven't been plea agreement negotiations in connection with the case, he understands the community's concerns.
"I will tell those concerned about that not to worry, because we’re not ever going to do anything without checking with the family and making sure that this is the right step and that this will involve bringing justice to the victim in this case,” Gonzales said.
Ethics rules prevented Gonzales from elaborating on the specifics of the King Jay case. But he said, generally, it's far too early in the case to begin discussing plea agreements.
Not an uncommon legal route
Gonzales said that plea agreements are standard in criminal justice operations across the nation. Locally, Gonzales said, the office handled more than 50,000 cases last year, adding that it's unrealistic to expect a majority of them to go to trial.
"Fewer than 3% of federal criminal cases result in a trial, with more than 97% of criminal cases being resolved by plea," a 2018 report from the National Criminal Defense Lawyers Association states.
Gonzales explained that while it may sometimes appear that a defendant is skirting full responsibilities for their actions through a plea deal, the outcome of a trial isn't always certain.
“If we can resolve it in such a way, for example, if a serious felony is involved, and the accused is willing to accept some prison term, that may be a better resolution than rolling the dice and ending up with an acquittal and he walks out the front door," Gonzales said.
Gonzales said all plea deals must be approved by his administration before they're offered. If a defendant accepts the plea, a judge will ultimately have to approve the agreement.
While a majority of the agreements are approved by judges, there are cases where a judge rejects the deal. Earlier this year, Anton Harris, who is accused in a series of sexual assaults in the Medical Center, accepted a plea deal, but 399th District Court judge Frank Castro rejected the deal.
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