During a tense hearing Monday morning, 445th state District Judge Gloria Rincones denied a motion to dismiss charges against two men accused of calling in an active shooter threat at Harlingen High School South and then robbing a pawnshop.
The Cameron County District Attorney’s Office sought to dismiss the charges because of a disagreement over a plea deal, which Assistant District Attorney Samuel Katz argued had not been accepted. Defense attorneys Noe D. Garza Jr. and Rick Canales disputed that assertion.
Cody Edward Quintero and Michael Anthony Serna face multiple charges stemming from the September 2016, active shooter hoax and subsequent robbery of a pawn shop, including engaging in organized criminal activity, four counts of aggravated robbery and making a terroristic threat.
Janie Martinez had been arrested along with the duo, but charges against the woman were dropped last December, court records indicate.
The DA would have re-filed charges, resetting the entire proceedings if Rincones had granted the motion to dismiss.
At issue during the hearing, where Rincones told everyone to “chill out, for lack of a better legal term,” was a plea arrangement the state reached with Garza and Canales that stipulated Quintero and Serna would plead guilty to all of the counts except for engaging in organized criminal activity and receive a 10-year sentence. The engaging in organized criminal activity charge would then be dismissed.
Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz said in a statement that the judge is refusing to follow the agreement and sentence Quintero and Serna to 10 years in prison.
“ The Court refuses to follow the agreement between the parties because she feels it’s too harsh and is therefore considering probation,” Saenz said.
Rincones has signed the plea agreements, which state the deal is 10 years in prison, court records indicate.
During the hearing, she said she had not made up her mind on what sentence she will hand down, but she felt the 10-year sentence was too harsh.
“ I have no intention to put these gentlemen in a worse position than they are in now,” Rincones said.
The judge said if the law gives her discretion to veer from the plea bargain’s recommendation, she will exercise discretion.
Rincones reset the sentencing hearing to Oct. 15 at 8:30 a.m.