‘I feel threatened’: Tensions boil over between state, defense lawyers during murder trial

SAN ANTONIO – Tensions boiled over inside a Bexar County courtroom among attorneys during a murder trial.

Roger McCracken, a military veteran, is on trial for the Sept. 11, 2021, fatal shooting of Ronnie Riddle.

The shooting happened outside an apartment complex on the Southeast Side.

Throughout the week, as testimony got underway, there have been heated back-and-forth discussions between the state and the defense.

As the jury was recessed for lunch in court on Friday, prosecutor Neil Cordero and defense attorney Joseph Hoelscher began talking.

Cordero told 437th District Court Judge Joel Perez that Hoelscher cursed at him.

Furthermore, Cordero was told that another defense attorney on the defense team, Daniel Mehler, made threatening remarks.

“Mr. Mehler was speaking to first chair district attorney Clayton Haden and told him that if I do it again, he’s going to beat my ass,” Cordero said. “I feel threatened by this defense lawyer, and I’m going to ask this defense lawyer be excused from this trial.”

Those comments made by Mehler were also apparently heard by other people sitting in the gallery.

Neither Hoelscher nor Mehler denied their remarks but said they weren’t threatening Cordero and were just caught up in the moment.

Both attorneys apologized to the court.

Perez also said they gave them a stern warning.

“The comments that both Mr. Hoelscher and Mr. Mahler made are wholly, wholly inappropriate, and so, I’m going to admonish you this one last time,” Perez said. “If it happens again, there’s going to be repercussions.”

Before the heated exchange, body camera footage from a first responding officer at the murder scene was shown to the jury.

The footage showed first-aid being administered by bystanders to Riddle as he was lying in the complex’s parking lot.

Officer Jonathan Lopez was questioned if he saw a weapon on Riddle. He said he didn’t but had heard one had been recovered.

Testimony in this case resumes next week.

McCracken is facing five to 99 years or life in prison if found guilty.


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