• Ariel Fernandez

Murder trial dates set

The pre-trial date for the Ariel Fernandez case was once again reset as a new charge against Joe Anthony Perez was announced along with new evidence that has surfaced.

Perez appeared in court on Wednesday, March 22 and pleaded not guilty to the following three charges: murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and a new charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon causing serious bodily injury /death to a family member.

With new evidence that has been uncovered, the defense team asked for more time to review. The pre-trial date has been set for Thursday, April 20. A docket call will take place on Wednesday, May 24 and a trial start date of Monday, June 12 has also been set.

Perez is alleged to have fatally stabbed Fernandez on the morning of December 13, 2015. He is also alleged to have stabbed Fernandez’s brother, Richard Luebano. Luebano was treated for his injuries and released from the hospital the next day. Fernandez’s mother, Cynthia Luebano, and family members were present in court on Wednesday to hear the new charge and Perez’s not guilty plea. In a statement, Luebano described the pain of losing a child in such a way is one of the most traumatic experiences any individual and parent can face and her mixed emotions about hearing Perez’s plea.

“I still can’t believe that we are going through this. And here we are almost two years since all this started...It’s an event that no one can be prepared for, but it’s also one which leaves a tremendous emotional pain...After hearing that he [Perez] had been charged with another count and new evidence presented, all that was going through my mind was, ‘Here we go again’...I just can’t wait to get this trial over and done with so that we can put some closure on our daughter’s passing and be able to move forward and not having to worry about another court hearing.”

Two other trials will also soon begin in Atascosa County on Monday, May 15. Jose Juarez faces a capital murder charge for the death of his three-month old son in August 2015. Matthew Serna will also begin his trial as he was charged with the murder of Lawrence Cole in early December 2015.