A four-year-old criminal case involving allegations of homicide, hiding human remains and child pornography at the Auld Ranch in Hunt may be a little closer to being resolved.
Hearings are scheduled over the next few weeks in criminal cases related to the 2016 disappearance of 26-year-old Magan Nicole King, who authorities claim was murdered at the Auld Ranch that October.
Two people pleaded guilty to hiding evidence of her killing and received probation in exchange for their help prosecuting any future codefendants. However, they still each have six additional, pending, evidence-tampering charges in this matter.
Steven Jilek has a Nov. 30 pretrial hearing on his evidence-tampering charges. He was put on probation last year and allowed to avoid a felony conviction in return for his guilty plea and assistance.
Candice Desrosiers, who was afforded the same deal, has had no court hearings set since a warrant was issued in July for her arrest for failing to appear at a hearing.
Eric Auld, who is accused of shooting King, has a hearing scheduled for Dec. 2 before 198th District Judge Melvin “Rex” Emerson Jr., who also is handling the cases of Stephen Jalik and Desrosiers. Auld’s Dec. 2 hearing is on a motion to suppress evidence filed Nov. 17 by his retained attorney, Woodrow J. Halstead III.
After King’s disappearance, the Kerr County Sheriff’s Office obtained a warrant to conduct a Nov. 4, 2016, search of the 5,600-acre Auld Ranch. The warrant was issued after a sheriff’s deputy submitted an affidavit that included key information from Desroisers. In the motion to suppress, Halstead argued Desroisers was too unreliable to have been used as a witness in the affidavit.
The 198th District Attorney’s Office will present arguments against Halstead’s motion at the Dec. 2 hearing.
According to Halstead’s motion, Desroisers:
• Wasn’t outside at the time of the alleged killing.
• Was under the influence of hallucinogenic mushrooms at the time of the incident.
• Told investigators “I don’t even know what happened.”
• Told investigators “I can be pretty f--king convincing if I have to be.”
• Admitted she was a heroin addict who’d originally gone to the ranch to get clean.
• Admitted she made her living as a prostitute and she met Auld as a customer.
• Told investigators she suffered brain damage as the result of a cocaine overdose.
• Was convicted of, and served prison time for, a conviction of fraudulent use and possession of less than five items of identifying information — a felony involving dishonesty — and possessing less than 1 gram of a controlled substance in penalty group 1. She also had been charged with forgery of a commercial instrument.
In his motion, Halstead also claims the deputy who wrote the affidavit:
• Took no steps to verify the truthfulness of Desroisers or corroborate the information she provided.
• Did not know her and had no previous dealings with her.
• Accepted her version of events at face value despite her past dishonesty and the lack of objective evidence to support her story.
Halstead cited Illinois v. Gates, 1983, and Serrano v. State, 2003, to argue that magistrates issuing search warrants must “know who or what the source of information is and why the source is reliable,” and he cited Illinois V. Gates again to argue precedent for the requirement that witnesses be reliable and credible based on their past performance.
He cited Wood v. State, 1978, and Adair v. State, 1972, to argue precedent for the requirement that, prior to issuing a search warrant, there must be a determination that a witness providing the basis for the warrant should be believed.
Halstead, in his Nov. 17 motion, also argued that the affidavit used to procure the search warrant doesn’t state that Desroisers “personally observed any act indicating Eric Auld committed the offense of murder or in any way harmed Ms. King.”
Halstead’s motion argued that “to the contrary,” King and Jalik were arguing shortly before King’s disappearance. According to a July motion by Halstead that made similar arguments, “there is nothing in the search warrant affidavit to suggest” the deputy “gathered sufficient information to determine whether or not Ms. Desrosiers was reliable and that the statements he provided could be trusted.”
“In fact, she is as much a suspect in Magan King’s murder as the defendant (Auld), a person who has no criminal history,” states Halstead’s July 2 motion. “When considering her background and character, as well as her relationship to Mr. Jilek, another suspect in this case, it is highly likely Desrosiers provided false information to officers investigating the case.”
Remaining indictments accuse Desrosiers of attempting to conceal the murder on or about Oct. 31, 2016, by:
• Burning clothing and shoes believed to belong to Auld.
• Removing ashes from a burn pile where evidence was burned and hiding them in another location.
• Using bleach to clean up blood spots.
• Wiping blood out of a vehicle.
• Hiding blood spots in an all-terrain vehicle by covering them with a dead hog.
• Removing a bullet casing from a vehicle
Desrosiers was arrested after the indictments were issued and was released on Feb. 18, 2018, after posting bonds.
On Aug. 5, 2019, she pleaded guilty to burning King’s cellphone on or about Oct. 31, 2016, the day King is alleged to have been killed.
Derosiers failed to participate in a July 6 court hearing, and a warrant was ordered for her arrest.
She wasn’t in the Kerr County jail as of Nov. 18.
On May 25, 2018, Jilek pleaded guilty to burning “clothing and shoes believed to belong to Eric Daniel Auld,” in an attempt to conceal a murder, according to the indictment attached to his guilty plea.
Remaining indictments accuse him of hiding a vehicle belonging to King, burning her cellphone and her clothing, hiding blood spots in an all-terrain vehicle by covering them with a dead hog, removing a bullet casing from a vehicle, and wiping blood out of a vehicle.
Auld was in the county jail for about eight months in 2016 and 2017, released on bond, then rearrested Feb. 14, 2018, after being indicted on additional evidence-tampering charges. He was released that day on bond and has been out of jail ever since.
Auld was first arrested Nov. 5, 2016, after Kerr County Sheriff’s deputies began investigating King’s disappearance.
King reportedly was last seen on the ranch, so a search warrant was executed there with the help of Department of Public Safety troopers, a DPS helicopter, the Travis County Search and Rescue Unit with search dogs and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice search unit, as well as horses.
King’s vehicle was discovered loaded onto a trailer in a remote part of the ranch, and human remains also were found, according to Kerr County Sheriff W.R. “Rusty” Hierholzer in a previous article published in The Kerrville Daily Times.
According to indictments, Auld is accused of fatally shooting King and attempting to hide evidence by hiding her 2008 Chrysler Sebring, burning her cellphone, burning her clothing, wiping blood out of a vehicle, hiding blood spots in an all-terrain vehicle by covering them with a dead hog, burning his own clothing and shoes, removing the ashes from a burn pile and burying the ashes in another location.
He faces a murder charge and nine counts of evidence tampering. In another indictment, Auld is accused of failing to report the existence of human remains to law enforcement.
Auld also is charged with filing a false affidavit of indigence to obtain a court-appointed attorney by claiming that the total assets he owned was “0.”
In what appears to be an unrelated matter, Auld is accused of possessing child pornography on a laptop computer discovered by investigators who had been trying to find communications between Auld and King.
Auld was indicted on 20 counts of possession of child pornography in March 2017. The indictment accuses Auld of having 20 separate images of male and female children, pre-teens and teens in various sexual situations, alone and with adults.
During a bond hearing in July 2017, Auld’s attorney, Brandon Hudson of Daniel & Hudson San Antonio Criminal Defense, presented the court with a letter that reportedly contains a detailed account of the events surrounding the death of King, written five days after Auld’s initial arrest.
According to a July 28, 2017, article by The Times, the letter reportedly states that King was shot and killed by a woman at the ranch because King was a key witness to a gang-related killing in San Antonio four to six weeks prior to her own death.
King, who according to her Facebook profile worked at Dollar General in San Antonio, appears to have left behind as many as four children.
Bexar County records show attempts to obtain court-ordered paternity tests from at least two known drug dealers in San Antonio, each of whom has been convicted of multiple felonies.