Updated at 9:12 p.m.

EDINBURG — Former Edinburg City Manager Juan Guerra faced assault charges Wednesday, but not before airing the intimate details of his relationship with his accuser to a throng of media outlets.

Former Edinburg City Manger Juan Guerra defenses himself, with his lawyer Reynaldo Merino present, against allegations by ex fiancé, Miriam Cepeda, in the law offices of Reynaldo M. Merino before turning himself in on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

Guerra surrendered to Edinburg police Wednesday afternoon, immediately after holding a news conference in which he again denied any wrongdoing alongside his attorney, Reynaldo Merino. This time, however, Guerra offered a copy of alleged demands his ex-fiance, Miriam Cepeda, submitted to him via an attorney as proof of an alleged extortion scheme.

Guerra is accused of shoving Cepeda to the ground and causing her to bang her head on furniture during a domestic dispute Dec. 15. What followed the incident appears to be a classic he said, she said situation, with both accusing each other of egregious transgressions.

Guerra took about 30 minutes to outline his version of events beginning in November and ending in early January. He alleged he either had audio or video recordings of every instance he spoke about, but declined to provide copies to the press. Instead, he said, police already had them in their possession.


Former Edinburg City Manger Juan Guerra is escorted as he turns himself in to police at the Edinburg police department on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

Cepeda did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday, though she previously accused Guerra of being emotionally and physically abusive throughout their relationship.

During the news conference, Guerra alleged Cepeda began accusing him of sexual and physical assault weeks before the Dec. 15 dispute, prompting him to purchase a 10-camera home surveillance system Dec. 14.

“I needed something to record what was happening,” he said. “I wanted to protect myself from any false allegations.”

The following day, Guerra alleged Cepeda threw his phone against a wall and then into the toilet during an argument over his ex-wife and Christmas presents for his kids. He responded by throwing her phone into the toilet, as well.

“I then went to the living room where the camera was recording. She followed me, pushed me to the side and threw the camera system to the floor, visually being the aggressor,” he said. “She told me, ‘hit me, hit me, hit me,’ which I didn’t, and she claimed that I was just disrespecting her all week, causing her to get out of control.”

Cepeda then allegedly cut the cord to the camera system, and sometime thereafter, called police accusing him of assault.

“One of the officers came out of the house and his first comments were that he felt Miriam was trying to manipulate them,” Guerra said. “This should be recorded on their body cams.”

He then outlined his communications between Cepeda’s attorney, which he refused to name, and her brother Joe Cepeda, whom Guerra insisted stood by his side, rather than his sister’s.

Joe Cepeda, however, disputed the characterization of their conversations.

“Obviously I never really knew all the details or the background,” Cepeda’s brother said Wednesday after listening to Guerra’s remarks. “I didn’t even know that he has asked for a statement to be changed or an NDA (non-disclosure agreement).”

Cepeda previously alleged Guerra wanted her to exonerate him through what she characterized as a false statement to police, and according to her letter of demands, Guerra asked for a non-disclosure agreement.

Her three-page letter, titled “List of items to mend Miriam’s heart,” includes a number of requests, including that Guerra buy her a new iPhone; pay for flights and hotel stays in Boston and Peru; a full payment of her vehicle, wedding expenses and a honeymoon trip to Europe for two.

Other requests included that Guerra rehome her mother, stop contacting her father at a Beaumont federal prison, and should she be pregnant, terminate all parental rights, as well as provide child support for life.

“Per Juan’s request, I will sign an NDA with $120,000 as consideration (including $60,000) by end of week, but only with agreement of the aforementioned items,” the letter stated. “I will file protective order on Mr. Juan G. Guerra & Mrs. Lucyadira Guerra, if non-negotiable terms are not met.”

And though Guerra denied assaulting Cepeda, Edinburg Municipal Judge Toribio “Terry” Palacios signed a warrant for his arrest earlier this week. Palacios arraigned him Wednesday on the Class A misdemeanor charge and issued Guerra a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.

If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine.

Watch the news conference

Former Edinburg City Manager Juan Guerra holds a news conference to counter assault allegations.

Posted by The Monitor on Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Read previous coverage

Ex-Edinburg city manager disputes assault narrative