NOT GUILTY: Jury rules in favor of former fire chief - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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NOT GUILTY: Jury rules in favor of former fire chief

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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 9:30 pm

With tears of joy, former fire chief Carlos Elizondo made an exit from the 107th state district court with his wife, children, family members and defense attorney Eddie Lucio, after being found not guilty on all six charges of computer security breach Wednesday afternoon in Brownsville.

The verdict came on the second day of the trial, minutes after the lunch recess. The jury of eight women and four men went into deliberation a few minutes past 10 a.m. and announced the verdict minutes before 2 p.m.

“First of all, I want to thank God, my family and everyone else who was here with us (and) my lawyer, Eddie,” Elizondo said after the trial while hugging his wife. “It’s a very hard road, and I just want to thank, again, my family, God and everyone who prayed for us. Everyone who was praying for Eddie, for the DA (District Attorney) Saenz, because we also have to thank him, he was doing his job. We are happy with what happened today, we can rest as a family today and for now, we are going to go home. We are very tired of all of this.”

In the elevator, Elizondo and his family were seen hugging each other and cheering for the result while some of them would yell, “God is good.”

When Judge Benjamin Euresti Jr. entered the courtroom to announce the verdict from the jury, several members of the audience held their hands together in prayer.

Elizondo was charged with six counts of computer security breach that pertain to allegations he accessed the Brownsville Fire Department Emergency Reporting System while suspended by the city and when he did not have consent of the City of Brownsville to access the reporting system.

During the trial, Lucio argued that there is no written rule that states he is not supposed to access the system and that new Fire Chief Jarrett Sheldon, the person who filed the complaint against Elizondo, just ordered to “downgrade” the access and make it view only.

“He said, ‘I need for you just to downgrade it.’ In other words, the only thing he ever told to anybody was: don’t shut it off, just downgrade it so that now he only has access to view,” Lucio said.

During his closing statement, Lucio added that if the city wanted to protect the system they could have just called Elizondo and told him to stop accessing the reports. However, Elizondo never received a notice, Lucio said.

Cameron County Assistant District Attorney Arturo Teniente said during his closing statement that “everybody knows what suspended means,” saying that Elizondo should have known what he could or could not do during suspension.

Lucio said he is very happy with the verdict and that he knew from the beginning Elizondo was innocent. He said the jury made the right decision.

“In all of the cases, there’s always a doubt (of winning) but I think the jury made the decision they had to make. We saw this case, since we started, that Carlos was innocent, and everything we had to do was show the evidence to the jury. It was a simple decision that they had to make,” Lucio said. “Right now, we are feeling very happy and Carlos just wants to rest. This process it’s very stressful and now he just wants to spend time with his family.”

District Attorney Saenz said he hopes Elizondo can put this behind him, and he wishes him and his family the best.

“You know, you do cases every day, you win some, you lose some and I hate to say that we lose some because we are just seeking justice and if justice is that the jury said ‘not guilty,’ I respect that,” Saenz told The Brownsville Herald. “I wish him and his family well. I know they went through a lot. This didn’t have to happen, but this case had to be tried, and we tried and the jury spoke. I hope he can put it behind him and that he can start recovering, get back to work and move on … He was my friend, and I hope that he can be my friend again.”

nreyna@brownsvilleherald.com

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