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District attorney’s office claims audio tapes in Walmart case were altered

EL PASO, Texas -- The El Paso district attorney's office says two of the three audio tapes used in an ad litem report, the same report that accuses a "representative" of District Attorney Yvonne Rosales of threatening and impersonating the family of a Walmart victim, are altered from their original recording.

The state made those allegations on Tuesday and asked the judge to reject the tapes, saying the recordings are "misleading" and arguing it "indicates an attempt to perpetuate a fraud on this court by the person who provided the recordings to Justin Underwood."

The district attorney's office points to a forensic audio authentication report they had requested from an audio forensic analyst in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

The analyst, David A. Smith, says the second audio tape was stopped and restarted during the conversation, and the third audio tape "contains areas of interrupted audio." The first recording has no markings of any digital audio editing, Smith says in his report.

Smith's resume says he has 39 years of experience in professional audio engineering and audio recording arts.

The state says Smith is their expert witness and asked El Paso 409th District Judge Sam Medrano if he could provide his testimony via Zoom during a hearing on Thursday since he does not live in El Paso. Assistant District Attorney Scott Ferguson also asked the judge if he could attend the hearing via Zoom.

Judge Medrano denied the objection to the audio tapes and the request for Zoom testimony. The judge said all parties must be present at the hearing.

The tapes in question were submitted by attorney Justin Underwood in his ad litem report. The recordings are alleged conversations between Vinton Municipal Judge Roger Rodriguez and the family of Walmart victim Alexander Gerhard Hoffmann.

Those conversations, all in Spanish, were also translated and transcribed by a certified translator. In the first recording, the only tape that was certified by the state's expert witness, a man who is said to be Rodriguez is heard telling the Hoffmann family that there was a plan to get Judge Medrano removed from the case.

"The friends from here, from El Paso, have been working extra hard to neutralize this judge, very hard," the transcript reads.

The hearing on Thursday is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. in the 409th District Court.

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Dylan McKim


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