Former state rep. appears in court in DWI case - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Former state rep. appears in court in DWI case

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Posted: Friday, June 7, 2019 10:30 am

Former state lawmaker Rene Oliveira has filed motions calling his arrest unlawful and challenging the legality of a warrant used to test his blood after the Brownsville Police Department arrested him on driving while intoxicated in April 2018.

County-Court-at-Law No. 1 Judge Arturo A. McDonald was scheduled on Thursday afternoon to consider motions to suppress evidence obtained after Oliveira’s arrest and to suppress evidence obtained from a blood analyses that revealed the former lawmaker’s blood alcohol level, as well as showing that he tested positive for a drug that prosecutors have not publicly identified.

However, McDonald said the motion to suppress evidence obtained after his arrest will be postponed because Oliveira’s defense attorney, Ed Stapleton, has not been able to view body camera video of the arrest because he is unable to open the video format the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office has the video saved in.

Assistant District Attorney Rehaman Merchant told McDonald he will meet with Stapleton and allow the attorney to view the video and convert it into a format that will work for him.

Merchant entered the alcohol and drug results as exhibits during the hearing, but McDonald sealed them at Stapleton’s request. The defense attorney asked McDonald to seal those results to protect Oliveira’s privacy. Merchant said he was not opposed to the results being sealed.

Separately, McDonald said he will rule on the motion to suppress evidence obtained from the blood analyses at a later date.

The Brownsville Police Department arrested Oliveira on April 28 at his residence and charged him with drunken driving.

A police report indicates that Oliveira left Cobbleheads just before 10:30 p.m. on April 28, 2018, before he crashed into a vehicle stopped at a light on the 800 block of Boca Chica Boulevard.

When police responded to Oliveira’s home, he told authorities that he left the scene of the crash after providing his business card to the other driver, believing “the matter to be settled.”

The criminal complaint against Oliveira alleges that his blood alcohol content was greater than 0.15 percent, which is almost double the legal limit.

Oliveira, however, says in the motions that the Brownsville Police Department had no right to arrest him at his home as he complied with all applicable laws governing car crashes and that there was no observable crime at his residence.

“He properly left the scene to go home. No law enforcement agent, especially not those who arrested him, observed him committing an offense,” the motion states.

Stapleton argues the Brownsville Police Department arrested Oliveira without a warrant and wants all the evidence seized as a result of a search without a valid search warrant, without probable cause and without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity thrown out at trial.

The motion challenging the blood draw warrant states that it allowed for seizure of the blood, but didn’t explicitly allow for the analyses of the blood and should therefore also be tossed.

According to Stapleton, the state was also required to obtain a warrant to test Oliveira’s blood.

“Here the warrant obtained could easily have been written to authorize testing the blood for evidence of alcohol and drug intoxication, but it contained no such language. As written, the warrant did not authorize testing at all,” the motion states.

That motion also says authorities waited too long — nearly a month — to execute the blood draw warrant.

mreagan@brownsvilleherald.com

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