Daughter of murder victim faces charge for disobeying subpoena in trial

Published 8:31 pm Monday, March 18, 2024

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The daughter of the man who was shot and killed south of Albert Lea in August 2022 was charged in Freeborn County District Court last week with felony contempt of court for disobeying her subpoena to testify in the trial tied to her father’s death.

Raquel Vasquez, 27, had been slated to testify March 7 in the trial of Ben Vidal Moreno, who was charged and convicted of murder in the death of Juan Vasquez Jr. Raquel Vasquez was one of the people at the scene when the shooting death occurred.

She and Moreno also had children together.

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Court documents state in the weeks leading up to the court date, Raquel Vasquez was cooperative with the prosecution’s team and agreed to appear in court in the case against Moreno. She last communicated with the prosecution’s team on March 6, when they told her when to be there the next day, to which she responded “okay.”

On March 7, when the time came for her to come to court, she did not do so and did not respond to messages from the prosecution’s team.

After a warrant was issued for her arrest for failure to appear in court to testify, an Albert Lea officer made about seven attempts to arrest Vasquez on the warrant, before putting together a group of three officers to assist.

She was ultimately arrested on the warrant at about 11 p.m. March 10 and was taken to the Freeborn County jail, where she told an officer she didn’t want to testify and that she was “terrified,” court documents state.

On March 11, prosecutors in the case, along with the Freeborn County sheriff, met with Vasquez in a holding cell, when she refused to answer their initial questions and then kept saying, “take me to my cell.”

After changing out of the jail uniform to street clothes to testify before the jury, she yelled and refused to come into the courtroom. Vasquez also refused to complete a hearing through Zoom the same day and walked away, despite attempts to have her sit down and finish the hearing.

Prosecutors ultimately decided not to bring her into the courtroom because of her hostility and refusal.

When the officer tried to speak with her, she refused.

“She told him that her life was important and that she did not want to talk,” court documents state.

Freeborn County District Court Judge Ross Leaning set Vasquez’s bail at $50,000 without conditions or $10,000 with conditions.

Felony contempt of court carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Moreno was ultimately convicted on Tuesday by a 12-member jury.