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Mother Shoots at Social Workers

March 14, 2005 permalink

A mother harassed by CPS in Texas lost it on March 3, 2005 and fired gunshots at social workers. Before she pulled out her gun, the wrongdoing alleged against the mother was that there were pets in the home and the boy's room was cluttered. Even the separated father expressed confidence in the mother.



Worker says she begged to leave

Accused gunwoman's child stays with state

ALICE - Brenda Trevino, a Child Protective Services investigator from Alice, testified Friday how she took refuge in a ditch while a mother she was questioning on drug and physical abuse allegations fired her shotgun and screamed obscenities at her and another investigator.

"I asked her to please put the gun down. She shot two in the air, then turned in my direction and shot. I tripped and fell on the caliche road, then I went to the nearest ditch," Trevino said. "I could hear her say, 'Where the (expletive) are you?' I feared for my life."

Vera Miller
Miller is being held in the Jim Wells County Jail on bonds totaling $120,000.

Trevino, who was not injured, testified in 79th District Judge Richard Terrell's court that Vera Miller, 46, should not have access to her 9-year-old son. The boy has been in an emergency shelter since the incident after which CPS took temporary custody.

"The bullet hit my vehicle that was right next to me. She kept shooting," Trevino said.

"I could just hear lots of shooting; I didn't know which direction it was going."

In all, 13 shots were fired, officials have said.

Terrell granted the state temporary custody of the boy and ordered a psychiatric evaluation of Miller and parenting and anger management classes. A second hearing is set for April.

Miller was arrested March 3, the night of the shooting, on suspicion of two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, criminal mischief and abandonment/endangerment child criminal negligence. She's being held in the Jim Wells County Jail. Bonds were set at $120,000 - $50,000 on each aggravated assault charge and $20,000 for the criminal mischief charge.

The Friday hearing was a civil suit, separate from the criminal case against Miller. A Jim Wells County District Attorney's Office spokesman said Friday afternoon the office had not received the criminal case yet and refused to comment. The judge on Friday appointed Alice attorney Gray Scoggins to represent Miller on the custody issue.

Scoggins refused to comment or allow Miller to comment. During the hearing, he questioned CPS's abuse case against his client.

"Would it be safe to say that the allegations were not supported by the interview," he asked Trevino.

"We weren't able to conduct a full investigation," she replied.

The March 3 interview at Miller's house in rural Jim Wells County had gotten off to a bad start, Trevino told the court. As soon as they were let in the house, Trevino said she and another investigator were told by Miller that they had a 10-minute limit to interview her son in his bedroom.

"She walked in and said, 'It's _been 10 minutes, get out of here - now.' "

Trevino said once they were in the living room, Miller paced back and forth and cursed at the investigators but calmed down enough to sit on the couch and answer some questions.

"I asked her if she would consent to a drug test. That's when she got really angry," Trevino testified. "She jumped to her feet and said, 'Get the (expletive) out of here. Get the (expletive) out of here now.' "

Then, Miller pulled a shotgun from under a blanket and cocked it twice, Trevino said.

Trevino said she pleaded for a chance to leave, and got cursed, yelled at and shot at in return.

When questioned by the child's court-appointed attorney, John Lemon, Trevino said the house smelled like cats and dogs, the boy's room was cluttered and the house was "in disarray, but livable."

The boy's father, Lionel Rangel, 47, of Oklahoma, also testified at the hearing. He told the judge he wanted custody of his son. CPS officials said the process of placing a child in a home in another state could take up to six months.

"I am having a real hard time with this. I want (him) to know that he's not abandoned," Rangel said, wiping tears from his eyes. "I am here for him and I always will be."

Scoggins asked Rangel if Miller was a good mother.

"There was nothing she wouldn't do for that young man," Rangel said.

Debra Ann Palos, the boy's paternal aunt from Alice, told the judge she wanted to care for the boy, instead of a foster home, while CPS worked through the process of placing him with his father.

Contact Nancy Martinez at 886-3794 or

Source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times (subscription required)