The 8th District Court of Appeals has overturned the conviction of the man who was found guilty of killing former KLAQ DJ Rick Madrigal.

Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash
Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash

Leonel Hernandez was convicted in 2019 for the shooting death that happened in 2016.  The lawyers for Leonel Hernandez are claiming that the state’s eyewitness, Marinda Palacios is likely the true murderer.

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“The state of Texas gave immunity to the person who likely pulled the trigger”, Hernandez’s then-attorney William Cox said at the time of the trial.

An El Paso detective said that Palacios told them she was having multiple affairs, one of whom was Leonel Hernandez. On the Borderland Crimes Podcast, Detective Camacho said that Marinda Palacios said that she was in Madrigal’s apartment when Hernandez “shot Rick”.

Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash
Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash

The legal team for Hernandez said they had an expert witness that would have testified that it was “physically impossible” for Leonel Hernandez to be the shooter.

The 8th Court, in this most recent development, agreed that the state prosecution improperly submitted evidence that disqualified that expert witness.

Rick, also known as “Rick Mardi Gras” on the air, had worked for KLAQ a few years before his murder. He was fired, then sued the station for wrongful termination.

Rick didn’t win that case and ended up working for El Paso Tourism. In those years between his lawsuit against KLAQ and his murder, Rick’s relationship with the Q had improved and repaired.

Through his work with tourism, we would see Mardi Gras frequently at events like the Downtown Street Festival and the KLAQ Mexican Food Cook-off.

My feeling was that Rick had decided to let bygones be bygones. His interactions with the station were positive and friendly even. His termination and lawsuit had become water under the bridge and he seemed to really be thriving in his new job.

We were very shocked and saddened when we heard about his untimely death.

Our news partners at KVIA ABC-7 and especially Stephanie Valle did much of the reporting on this case.

Here’s their story on this latest development:

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