State recommends 30 years for former Border Patrol agent

EDINBURG — The state of Texas announced Tuesday morning that it will recommend that a former Border Patrol agent accused of shooting his ex-girlfriend before abandoning their 1-year-old child spend three decades in prison.

Ricardo Cepeda Jr., 33, appeared in Auxiliary Court for a scheduled discovery hearing when senior state District Judge Fidencio Guerra Jr. asked Assistant District Attorney Michelle Puig what the state would recommend.

“Thirty years is the state’s recommendation,” Puig responded.

The new detail into the prosecution of Cepeda, who is being held on a $1.05 million bond after being arrested on March 3, 2019, on charges of aggravated assault against a family member, attempted murder, abandoning a child without intent to return and abandoning or endangering a child with criminal negligence, followed questioning from Guerra why the 10-month-old case hadn’t been resolved.

Cepeda has entered not guilty pleas to all of the charges.

In response, O. Rene Flores, one of Cepeda’s attorneys, told Guerra that the state has turned a massive amount of discovery over to the defense and that the purpose of the discovery hearing is to go over that evidence piece-by-piece with the state to make sure both sides are on the same page about evidence in the case.

Guerra reset the hearing at Flores and Puig’s request.

State District Judge Keno Vasquez previously ordered the hearing in December.

Edinburg police arrested Cepeda after responding to reports that 34-year-old Edinburg resident Brenda Hernandez had been found inside a vehicle with gunshot wounds to her back and upper torso outside a residence at 3322 Zoe St.

Cepeda fired at the woman eight times, Puig said in December.

The alleged attack occurred during the former couple’s first court-ordered custody drop-off, Puig said at Cepeda’s last hearing.

At the end of Tuesday’s hearing, Guerra allowed Cepeda to spend five minutes with his mother and father.

He has remained in jail despite his attorneys’ efforts to get him released pending trial.

Prosecutors are opposed to his release and have argued that he presents a danger to Hernandez, saying during a December hearing that they believed he would try to “finish” what he started.

mreagan@themonitor.com