LEVELLAND, Texas — The capital murder trial of Omar Soto-Chavira will be moved to Johnson County on a change of venue, court records revealed. State District Judge Pat Phelan issued the order on January 9, and EverythingLubbock.com discovered it Friday during a routine check of public records.
“Upon the court’s motion to change venue and without objection from the State or the Defendant, the court will change the venue of this case to Johnson County, Texas for the jury trial,” the order said. “All other matters will continue to be heard in Hockley County, Texas.”
A jury trial in Cleburne, Texas was scheduled for September 16, 2024, at 9:00 a.m.
Previous coverage: LCSO Sergeant Josh Bartlett killed in SWAT standoff in Levelland
The judge’s order also said, “Hockley County shall reimburse Johnson County for the expenses of trying this case in Johnson County including room and board for the defendant.”
Days before the change of venue, the Levelland & Hockley County News Press reported that Hockley County sought grants to cover the cost of the trial, “which she [District Attorney Angela Overman] has estimated in the past to cost upwards of $2 million.”
Note: The following video contains remarks from District Attorney Angela L. Overman in September 2021
Soto-Chavira was indicted for the capital murder of Lubbock County Sheriff’s SWAT team Sergeant Joshua Bartlett. LCSO assisted Levelland Police with a call on July 15, 2021.
Previous coverage: The shooter accused of killing a Lubbock officer; what we know about him
Officials at the time said Soto-Chavira was armed and shooting at officers after they responded to a disturbance call in a Levelland neighborhood. Bartlett lost life; Levelland Police Sergeant Shawn Wilson was shot in the head and later recovered. Two other officers suffered gunshot injuries.
Even after Bartlett was shot, the armed standoff between Soto-Chavira and officers continued. It lasted for a total of 11 hours.
The district attorney said in September 2021 that she intends to seek the death penalty.
Soto-Chavira remained in the Hockley County Jail on Friday on bonds totaling $1 million.