BELTON — A plea deal for a man accused of a double-homicide has reached an impasse, his attorney said Monday.
The attorney for Lupe Martinez Chappa III is John Galligan, and he’s been in negotiations for several months with Bell County Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Newell — who is representing the District Attorney’s office in a case on two homicides on April 13, 2016.
Galligan previously said Chappa was supposed to enter a plea in February 2018, but no plea agreement was reached then by Galligan and Newell.
Since then, each court date has been rescheduled for a total of five times.
He couldn’t say what the final roadblock was that led to what he called the lack of a “fair disposition,” Galligan said.
The dates for three separate jury trials will be set Friday because the law and facts in the case don’t permit a joinder of the co-defendants, District Attorney Henry Garza said Monday.
Chappa, now 20, was the third person charged with the double homicide of Johnathan Hess, 26, of Temple, and Vicente Hernandez, 36, of Killeen. Others charged were Justin Lane Slatton, now 23, and Rodrigo Lara Gutierrez.
Their date for pre-trial is Friday, according to the court docket. They will appear in Judge Fancy Jezek’s courtroom.
Chappa and Slatton are accused of shooting Hess and Hernandez in the 400 block of North Seventh Street. Hess died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds, and Hernandez was taken to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Temple, where he died from a gunshot wound to the head.
Chappa, the first suspect identified and arrested by the Temple Police Department, has been in the Bell County Jail since May 11, 2016, and his bond was set at $2 million.
Gutierrez, 22, was the last suspect booked into the jail Nov. 14, 2016, and his bonds total $2,007,500. He allegedly drove the getaway car for Slatton and Chappa.
Slatton’s bonds total $3 million because a charge of capital murder of multiple persons was added to the two counts of murder and a bench warrant. He eluded capture by law enforcement agencies and, in June 2016, was to the Texas Department of Public Safety 10 Most Wanted list. He was arrested in September by San Angelo Police for the Temple warrant.
Representing Slatton is James Kreimeyer, and Andrew Wolfe will represent Gutierrez, court documents show.