Family members said they knew Julie Ann Rodriguez’s life was in danger. She was a potential witness in a homicide trial involving an ex-boyfriend.
But reports suggested they did not think the worst would happen. Tragically, she was gunned down in the driveway of her home a week ago.
Associated Press said police reports identified the victim as 44-year-old Julie Ann Rodriguez. She was headed for church Sunday morning when she was shot and killed in front of her teenage sons in San Antonio, Texas.
Reports said a lone gunman got into a waiting vehicle and was driven away.
“Police have reported no arrests and haven’t determined if there was any link between the shooting and the upcoming trial,” reported AP.
According to Cliff Herberg, a prosecutor in Bexar County, Ms. Rodriguez was to testify against her ex-boyfriend Martin Barrera Balboa, who was slated to appear in court just days after her death. He is charged with murder in the 2003 shooting death of Joseph Delgado at a San Antonio basketball court.
KENS 5 reported family members said Rodriguez knew her life was in danger, but she “chose not to live in fear.”
States such as Texas have witness protection programs for people who are threatened due to proceedings they are involved in in the criminal justice system.
Under the U.S. Federal Witness Protection Program, the person in question may be put into a witness protection program before, during or after a trial and is often protected by law enforcement. While many witnesses who are in the program only need protection until the end of the trial, others may even be given new lives and identities that are used for the rest of their lives.
Use of witness protection is often required in trials that involve organized crime or other cases where there is a “measured risk of a witness being intimidated or even harmed by associates of the defendant,” states Laws.com.
The U.S. Federal Witness Protection Program is a nationwide program but New York, Texas, and California are among states that provide their own programs for any crimes that are not covered under the federal program. Today, witnesses are often protected by the U.S. Marshals Service while incarcerated witnesses are protected by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.