Student veteran could be tried for life sentence

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Prosecutors from the Travis County District Attorney’s office may be pursuing a life sentence against public affairs graduate student Gene Vela, who is being charged with aggravated assault against a public servant after he was allegedly involved in police stand-off Nov. 10.

Vela, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq in 2002, was booked in the Travis County Jail on Nov. 11 at 3:26 a.m., the day after being shot in the torso by police. He was shot after alledgedly aiming a handgun equipped with a laser at two policemen through his apartment window in North Campus. Police were originally summoned to his apartment following a 911 call from a friend of Vela’s.

Adam Reposa, who represented Vela in court Tuesday, said the district attorney’s office may be pursuing a life sentence against Vela.

Steve Brand, prosecuting attorney for the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, said that no plea offer had yet been made on the case.

“I can see the argument why he should spend life in prison, but there is currently no offer on the case,” Brand said.

Brand said more investigation into the incident is required before plea negotiations can begin.

“It would be premature to say there are currently plea negotiations,” Brand said.

Vela, who is in custody, is scheduled to appear in court next Friday. Brand said the district attorney’s office would not support reducing Vela’s bond — which is currently set at $100,000 — in order to more quickly release him from custody.