The murder trial of a man accused of murdering former KLAQ air personality and Destination El Paso employee Rick Madrigal is set to start Tuesday, March 5, according to El Paso County court records.

It’s been delayed several times over the years, most recently in September 2018 after the lead public defender on the case resigned from the El Paso County Public Defenders’ Office to go into private practice and the new lawyers appointed requested time to familiarize themselves with all the evidence.

Should it get underway as scheduled, it would be quite fitting as Rick was known on air as “Mardi Gras” and March 5 is “Fat Tuesday,” AKA Mardi Gras.

Leonel Hernandez shot and killed Madrigal at his west El Paso apartment on June 11, 2016. Madrigal was found dead the following day by a friend who went to check on him after her repeated calls to him went unanswered.

Hernandez admitted under questioning to shooting and killing Madrigal according to a police complaint affidavit obtained in 2016 by the El Paso Times. A motive was not included in the statement.

2016 El Paso PD Mug Shots
2016 El Paso PD Mug Shots

County records show the second person arrested in connection with the investigation, Marinda Palacios, also has a court date coming up. A Status Hearing is scheduled for March 27.

Palacios is facing a charge of Failure to Report a Felony, after the El Paso Police Department’s Crimes against Persons Unit determined she witnessed Madrigal's murder but failed to report the crime to police. As 93.1 KISS-FM previously reported, she told police she did not report the murder because she feared for her life.

Failure to Report a Felony is classified as a Class A Misdemeanor. Although it is the most serious type of misdemeanor offense in Texas, it only carries the possibility of up to one year in a county jail and/or a fine of up to $4000.

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