Hearing discusses whether attorney should be removed from case

Salomon Campos Jr.

Attorneys representing Salomon Campos, Jr. — the nephew of longtime Harlingen attorney Ernesto Gonzalez charged with his murder — appeared in court to discuss a motion in which state prosecutors asked a judge to determine whether Campos’ counsel Ernesto Gamez should be removed from the case.

Authorities located Gonzales’s remains in June following a three-year investigation, when Harlingen police executed a search warrant on a property owned by Campos, 43, on Kansas City Road in La Feria.

Campos is charged with murder, aggravated kidnapping, and stalking. His bonds total $1.6 million. On Monday, he appeared via Zoom from the Carrizales-Rucker Detention Facility.

In the 445th state District Court, attorney Erin Gamez argued before state District Judge Gloria Rincones that prosecutors included extrajudicial statements about Ernesto Gamez’s former intimate relationships should be sealed from the public or struck from the record.

Erin Gamez argued that in over 500 pages of evidence and hours of video, Ernesto Gamez’s name comes up in a single report completed by a Texas Ranger in March. She accused the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office of looking for a distraction from “the lack of evidence” against Campos. “There is no motive, no witnesses to testify that he did it,” she said.

The motion stated that Campos called a phone “registered/owned by Mr. Gamez and believed to be used by Monica Gonzalez.”

According to Erin Gamez, “There is no proof whatsoever that Mr. Gamez ever registered or owned a phone that the defendant called. To imply that Mr. Gamez was somehow involved at that time is brought in bad faith.”

Assistant DA Brett Patillo said that a Texas Ranger questioned Ernesto Gamez before the Gamez’s were hired onto the case. As such, she said there was no malicious intent — the ranger called to question Gamez because he thought he might be a witness in the case.

Administrative First Assistant District Attorney Edward Sandoval read a legal definition of “extrajudicial” to the court. The term is defined as something taking place outside a court or the court system, or out of proceedings.

He said the statements qualified as public record and argued the motion was filed to bring the issue to the court’s attention so that the issue doesn’t arise during trial.

The statements might qualify as extrajudicial had the DA’s office issued a press release and held a press conference regarding the information, he argued.

Rincones opted to strike the statements from the motion and denied the motion as it was written, but did not agree that the motion needed to be sealed.

An arraignment hearing is currently scheduled for Oct. 28.

esheridan@brownsvilleherald.com

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