Dozens of Texas families are campaigning against ultra-liberal Austin District Attorney Jose Garza, who they say is “revictimizing” them after the deaths of their loved ones by failing to impose strict prison sentences for their killers and attackers. .
More than 70 survivors of rape and other violent crimes and the families of those murdered in the Austin area have formed a group to voice their complaints to Travis County District Attorney José Garza.
Backed by liberal billionaire George Soros, Garza took office in 2021 in a post-George Floyd election, promising to prosecute bad cops and reform the justice system, especially for Black and Brown lawbreakers.
“I thought I might be lenient on people caught with marijuana, not that I would let the killers go,” Conny Branham, whose son was murdered in June 2020, told DailyMail.com.
Chris Branham, 26, was brutally beaten by a gang of five people, who stomped on his face in a motel.
Two of the suspects took him to a remote cornfield, where the father of two tried to flee, but was eventually shot dead.
José Garza was elected to office in 2020 and is currently running for re-election. The Democrat has a rival in the primaries, Jeremy Sylestine
Chris Branham, 26, was killed in June 2020 after his body was dumped in a field outside Austin.
Chris Branham (left) and his mother, Conny, (right) visiting the beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2016.
It took 37 days to locate his body and his mother said he was mummified by then.
Five people were involved in his mob-style beating, and drug dealers believed Branham was a police informant, according to prosecutors.
Only three of the five suspects arrested were sentenced to prison.
Charges were dropped against a man and a teenage girl, who shared a video on Snapchat of herself kicking and breaking Branham’s jaw.
Kyle Cleveland, the man prosecutors say fired the shots that killed Branham, was originally charged with capital murder, but the charges were later reduced and he was offered a 14-year plea deal.
Kyle Cleveland and Anthony Davis received plea deals from Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza for their roles in the beating, kidnapping and shooting of Chris Branham.
The district attorney’s office did not inform the Branhams that Garza was offering them plea deals until the documents had already been signed, Conny claims.
The grieving mother and her family have already gone to parole eligibility hearings to try to keep her son’s attackers in prison.
“It’s total revictimization,” Conny fumed. “We victims have to go to parole hearings and write letters, reliving everything, every time, just to entertain a criminal.”
Then there are the cases that Garza steadfastly refused to prosecute, resulting in charges being dropped entirely, up nearly 50% compared to the previous district attorney, according to research by local television station KXAN found.
“It’s because he thinks prison is bad,” lawyer Jeremy Sylestine who is running against Garza told DailyMail.com.
Former Austin, Texas, prosecutor Jeremy Sylestine is challenging Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza in the Democratic primary.
Travis County District Attorney José Garza is on record as opposed to the death penalty and has vowed never to use it while in office.
‘He believes he knows more than the citizens of Travis County who make up our juries. There is a reluctance to take cases to trial and listen to what the community has to say. Instead, he prefers to make a deal that hits the victim square in the face.
The Democrat even offered a plea deal to Kaitlin Armstrong, the woman accused of killing the woman her boyfriend had briefly dated, in a fit of jealousy.
Armstrong rejected the deal and instead went to trial in November. A jury found her guilty in less than three hours and sentenced her to 90 years in prison.
There are countless other stories, like Branham’s, of families grieving and seeking justice while feeling disrespected by Garza’s decision to drop charges or offer plea deals.
“I feel devastated,” he bleeds out in the arms of his father JR Lopez, whose daughter was shot in the head during a deadly road rage incident.
JR López photographed with his daughter Miranda, 21, who was murdered in 2021
Miranda Lopez, whose father says she loved being with her nieces and nephews, was shot in the head during a road rage incident in Austin, Texas.
The two men who shot Miranda Lopez while she was driving home from dinner with her sister were also offered plea deals, even though the families were told that state law allowed prosecutors to seek up to 99 years in prison.
Lopez said Garza refused to take the cases to trial.
“This is not justice,” said the victim’s father. “I’m not sure how much longer I can do this.”
Garza declined to be interviewed for this story, however, he sent a statement to DailyMail.com defending his record.
“For the past three years, the District Attorney’s Office has focused on holding people who commit acts of violence accountable and addressing the root causes of violence,” the statement said.
“As a result, this is one of the safest communities in the country.”
Garza, who previously worked as a federal public defender, originally ran for office promising to be a different kind of district attorney.
“This is someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Sylestine added. He is not a trial lawyer. He has not been a criminal attorney for most of his career and has never been in front of a Travis County jury in his entire life. “I just don’t know if this is what Travis County expected in 2020.”
Garza’s campaign promises were to focus more on violent crimes and less on low-level drug crimes, he told a liberal legal publication.
In his first 100 days in office, the Democrat ended the use of cash bail for people accused of minor, non-violent crimes.
Anita Byington, 21, was beaten to death in August 1992. Allen Andre Causey confessed to killing Byington over a drug dispute and is now seeking exoneration through the Texas Innocence Project.
He is also actively working with the Texas Innocence Project, the group best known for helping death row inmates avoid the death penalty, to review cases from 1985 to 199, the Justice Department Announced.
Garza is on record as being against the death penalty and, while running for office in 2020, vowed to never seek it if he became district attorney.
Kristina Byington and her family were shocked to learn that Garza was working to overturn a conviction for her cousin’s killer.
Allen Andre Causey had been convicted in July 1992 of the murder of Anita Byington.
“I don’t get it… how can you be pro-crime?” Kristina Byington said.
Byington complained that the district attorney’s office has not even had the courtesy to keep them informed about the hearings, forcing them to hire an attorney to review the facts of the case.
The district attorney’s attitude toward the family was the most common complaint expressed by families of several victims interviewed by DailyMail.com.
Garza’s opponent, a former assistant district attorney, claims that 75 of about 95 prosecutors have left office during Garza’s tenure.
“It’s a huge percentage of experience and that can’t be replaced quickly, and I don’t know if he has the tools to teach people in a way that makes the public and the victims feel good about who is handling those cases.” , Sylestine pinned.