A recent court filing in the Walmart case sheds more light on the mysterious emails that surfaced last month that have become central to the controversy over the district attorney’s office. On August 4, 2022, several local news media outlets received a mysterious email from someone who identified themselves as Alexander Hoffmann Valdez, one of the three sons of Alexander Gerhard Hoffmann, one of the victims of the August 3rd Walmart massacre. [1] El Paso News was not among the recipients of the email. Central to the mysterious emails is a former district attorney who was working on the Patrick Crusius trial under Jaime Esparza before the current District Attorney Yvonne Rosales took over the office and the prosecution of Crusius. A former assistant district attorney, Amanda Enriquez, who know works in the public defender’s office had appeared on KVIA the day before and said that Rosales’ office was unlikely to proceed to trial if the federal prosecutors seek the death penalty against Crusius. [2] Enriquez’ comments were reported on the anniversary of the Walmart murders.

Enriquez told KVIA that the trial against Crusius would “likely” be moved out of El Paso. [3] Enriquez’ comments to KVIA seems to have precipitated the email to the news media alleging that Enriquez was “using this case for political purposes.” Enriquez has “long been rumored” to be considering a run against Rosales in 2024, according to KTSM. [4]

The email was signed by Alexander Hoffmann Valdez, but the email’s return address had the name Rosa Maria Valdez. The email alleged that Enriquez had violated a gag order issued by the judge in the Crusius case on July 1. The judge ordered the attorneys and witnesses not to speak to the media. The email went on to add that the Hoffmann family had filed a complaint at the state bar against Enriquez. [5]

Central to the mysterious email is Rosa Maria Valdez.

Questions about who sent the email surfaced immediate after it was received with KTSM questioning its authenticity by pointing out the use of the English language by “primarily Spanish speakers.” KTSM reported that the Hoffmann family denied being behind the email. [6]

On August 24, 2022, local attorney Omar Carmona filed a court petition demanding the removal of Rosales as the district attorney. Among the complaints Carmona makes against Rosales in his removal petition is that the district attorney cannot be ready to try the capital case against Crusius. [7]

Several court filings have ensued since then and the district attorney’s office has alleged a “conspiracy,” including Bob Moore and his El Paso Matters non-profit publication against her office and asked for the removal of Sam Medrano as the judge in the case.

Because of the mysterious email, Medrano ordered the district attorneys office and the other attorneys to provide a list of “persons who informed the witnesses of the gag order.” The district attorney’s office submitted its list to the judge on August 11. The list identified assistant district attorney John Briggs as the individual that spoke to Rosa Maria Valdez Garcia, Alexander Wilheim Hoffmann and Thomas Hoffmann about the judge’s order not to speak to the news media. [8]

On August 29, 2022, John Briggs was fired by the district attorney’s office. [9] El Paso News has confirmed with individuals close to the events that agreed to speak to us on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue that Briggs was terminated due to his work on the Walmart case. Briggs “was escorted out of the building” by “three DA investigators” on the day he was fired, according to reporting by KTEP’s Aaron Montes and Dallas Morning News correspondent Alfredo Corchado. [10]

Briggs was hired by Jaime Esparza, Rosales’ predecessor. According to Briggs’ Linkedin profile, he started working for Esparza in September 1997. Several sources have confirmed to El Paso News that Briggs had two primary duties when Rosales took office. They were the Walmart case and the Ivan Gabaldon death penalty case that was dismissed on December 14, 2021, for “prosecutorial vindictiveness.” [11]

Medrano’s gag order on the Walmart case was precipitated by a June 27, 2022, The Dallas Morning News and KTEP public radio news report about the district attorney seeking to prosecute Crusius before the federal trial in 2024. According to The Dallas Morning News, district attorney Yvonne Rosales “issued a statement” to them on June 27, 2022, announcing that she was prepared to seek the death penalty against Crusius. [12]

On August 17, 2022, Medrano appointed Justin Underwood “to represent the Hoffmann family in any future proceeding that may arise” in the case. The district attorney’s office filed a motion to remove Medrano from the case on September 9. [13]

In a recent court filing, the district attorney’s office alleges that Sam Medrano and Joe Spencer are “engaged in an agreement to prevent the prosecution of the Walmart mass shooting case.” The district attorney’s office is alleging “personal animus” by Medrano against Rosales and has asked the court to remove Medrano from overseeing the prosecution of Crusius. [14]

According to the court filings, Spencer demanded that Yvonne Rosales remove the death penalty from the Crusius case. The filing lists several comments attributed to Spencer in which Spencer insinuates that he can get Sam Medrano “to let us do” what Spencer wants and that Spencer “can get Medrano covered” from the news media’s attention. The district attorney alleges in its court filing that Spencer and Medrano have conspired “to misinform the community and distract from the unlawful and unsustainable agreement, an agreement that is perceived to be a violation of the United States Constitution.” [15]

A court hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday, September 27 to address the motion to remove Medrano as the judge overseeing the Walmart case. Central to the hearing are the mysterious email, the alleged conspiracy between Medrano and Spencer and the Hoffmann family.

In a court filing on September 9, 2022, by the district attorney’s office we learn more about Rosa Maria Valdez, who is at the center of the mysterious email. Although the news media and court documents have erroneously identified Valdez as Hoffmann’s “widow,” she is not according to the latest court filing. [16]

The court filing states that Rosa Maria Valdez Garcia has been divorced from Alexander Hoffmann “since November 22, 2001.” Because she is the ex-wife of Hoffmann and not his “widow,” the district attorney’s office is arguing that she has “no standing” in the Walmart case. The district attorney’s office reports that the murder victim, Alexander Hoffmann has two “biological children.” They are Alexander Wilhelm Hoffmann and Thomas Hoffmann and that Elise Hoffmann Taus “is the biological child of Rosa Maria Valdez, but is not the biological child of Alexander Hoffmann.” [17]

The Hoffmann family has consistently denied that they are behind the mysterious emails. Rosa Maria Valdez is the only individual who has been linked to the emails and although erroneously attributed as the Hoffmann “widow,” she is not.

Stay with El Paso News for this developing story.

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Footnotes:

  1. Andra Litton, “Who is impersonating the family of a Walmart massacre victim?,” KTSM, August 5, 2022.
  2. Edwin Deglado, “Will federal prosecutors seek the death penalty? Lawyers share thoughts on Aug. 3 trial,” KVIA, August 3, 2022.
  3. Delgado, “Will federal prosecutors.”
  4. Litton, “Who is impersonating.”
  5. Litton, “Who is impersonating.”
  6. Litton, “Who is impersonating.”
  7. Omar Carmona v. Yvonne Rosales, 2022DCV2472, “Petition To Remove District Attorney Of The 34th Judicial District Yvonne Rosales and Jury Demand,” (346th District Court El Paso County, Texas), August 24, 2022.
  8. The State of Texas v. Patrick Wood Crusius, 20200D02631, “Response To State’s Motion To Recuse The Honorable Judge Sam Medrano,” (409th District Court El Paso County, Texas), September 19, 2022.
  9. Aaron J. Montes and Alfredo Corchado, “El Paso County DA faces petition for removal; two prosecutors in Walmart mass shooting case leave,” Texas Standard, August 31, 2022.
  10. Montes “El Paso DA faces petition.”
  11. Omar Carmona v. Yvonne Rosales, 2022DCV2474.
  12. Aaron Montes and Alfredo Corchado, “’The grandstanding ends today,’ El Paso judge issues gag order in Aug. 3 shooting trial,” The Dallas Morning News, July 1, 2022.
  13. The State of Texas v. Patrick Wood Crusius, 20200D02631, Recusal Motion.
  14. Adam Powell, “DA’s Office alleges deal between defense, judge to prevent prosecution in Walmart shooting,” El Paso Times, September 21, 2022.
  15. Powell, “DA’s Office.”
  16. The State of Texas v. Patrick Wood Crusius, 20200D02631, “Notice Regarding The State Of Contact With The Hoffmann Family,” (409th District Court El Paso County, Texas), September 9, 2022.
  17. The State of Texas v. Patrick Wood Crusius, 20200D02631, “Notice Regarding.”

Martin Paredes

Reporting on public corruption, border politics, immigration and public policy in El Paso since 2000.

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