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A long road to justice: Twin brothers remain in Florida a year after shooting at migrants in Sierra Blanca, Texas

EL PASO, TEXAS -- Two men are accused of shooting at a group of migrants who had stopped to get a drink of water, killing one and wounding another, according to investigators. The shooting happened on Sept. 27, 2022, near Sierra Blanca, Texas. 

Michael and Mark Sheppard, both 61, are out on a $500,000 dollar bond each, according to Michael Sheppard's lawyer, Brent Mayr. 

32-year-old Brenda Berenice Casias spent four months recovering from the gunshot wound she suffered. She says she played dead, afraid she would be shot again.

Court records say Michael and Mark Sheppard allegedly attacked the migrants while they rested at "Five mile tank", a well-known watering hole. One of the migrants was 22-year-old Jesús Ivan Sepúlveda, who was shot and killed.

He was a married father of two. His wife says he was on his way to work as a house painter in San Antonio, Texas.

The Sheppard brothers were arrested at home and charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Investigators say the brothers first told them they were looking for ducks, but they later said they were looking for Javelinas, which is a wild pig commonly found in Sierra Blanca.

Casias said, "That's a lie, they looked at us face-to-face before shooting." 

The migrants told investigators the Sheppard's yelled racial slurs in broken Spanish before firing. Attorney Brent Mayr represents Michael Sheppard and he denies the allegations.

"They had no idea that there were human beings out there in the desert at that time of night. There's no way they could have seen or even known that those were human beings out there. And so I want to be very clear that any accusations about them saying anything in Spanish or thinking that they were communicating with human beings is absolutely false," Mayr said.

Meanwhile, Jesus Sepulveda's family wants to know why the Sheppard brothers are free and unindicted more than a year later. Napoleon Sepulveda demands justice from U.S. authorities. "I would like to ask the lawyers and the authorities to please not forget about my son's case. My son deserves justice" Sepulveda said.

After being charged with the shootings of both migrants, the Sheppards bonded out and returned to their home state of Florida. When I reached out to the Hudspeth county district clerk's office they said, "... the Sheppard brothers have not been indicted yet."

ABC-7 asked why and they said "they didn't know why" and directed me to prosecutors. That would be district attorney Bill Hicks, who serves the 34th judicial district, which includes Sierra Blanca. The chief of staff says they can't indict because law enforcement has yet to turn over the case to them. I asked El Paso criminal defense attorney Omar Carmona if it's normal for the case to be pending this long, to which he replied, "It's within their discretion when they're going to bring the charges within the statute of limitations." The manslaughter charge has no statute of limitations.

However, Texas law requires aggravated assault cases be indicted within 2 years or else they'll be dismissed. That means the alleged aggravated assault against Casias could be dismissed.

"It's our position that hopefully that they recognize that it is an accident and nothing more" said attorney Brent Mayr. The FBI confirmed they also have an open investigation. Federal prosecutors have not responded to my emails asking about the status of their case. Jesus Sepulveda's family says no one has contacted them since December of 2022 and Casias says she has already cried and suffered a lot and all she cares about now is for justice to be served. 

Article Topic Follows: On the Border

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Gabby Hernandez


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