Lawyer: Client forced to participate in La Plaza Mall robbery

The lawyer of a McAllen robbery suspect says his client was involved against his will after threats were being made against his family.

Miguel Angel Cardenas-Quintanilla is one of seven suspects accused of causing panic and fear throughout La Plaza Mall last month after an attempted robbery at the Duetch and Deutch Jewlery Store.

However, his lawyer, Sergio Sanchez, says he was involved against his will after threats were being made against Quintanilla's family.

"He was forced into this situation. His role was to go in and he had a hammer in his hand and his role was to break a case of glass," Sanchez said about his client being forced by smugglers. "He had just crossed illegally from Mexico by a group of smugglers that he paid to cross. That was one week prior to this incident."

Sanchez says during the quick visits he's had with his client, a shocking story unraveled.

Sanchez says the smugglers told Quintanilla they would kill his wife and kids if he did not participate in the botched robbery.

"These guys take your phone, go through your phone, gather information about you and your family," said Quintanilla. "Pictures of his daughter, his wife, his parents and that's how the threats begin."

Sanchez says it's unclear if the other suspects were in on the threats or if they, too, were forced into the plot, but does claim Quintanilla had never before met the other six men.

"We want a fair jury and want them to see the case with open eyes and not base everything off what they see online," said Sanchez. "These shots of video that have been circulated widely, so in the court of public opinion he's convicted, but there's way more to a case then what's on video."

We reached out to Mcallen police multiple times to confirm if the allegations about threats made to Quintanilla's family were being looked into. We did not get a response.

Quintanilla is expected back in court within the next few weeks for his indictment. He and the other six suspects remain behind bars.

Sanchez says he is also fighting to get the false identification charge thrown out as he says his client did not give a fake name. It was simply a misunderstanding as he gave the name Miguel Cardenas, instead of Miguel Angel Cardenas Quintanilla.

The judge on the case has not ruled whether or not he will drop the charge or keep it.

Quintanilla is still being held on a $210,000 bond.

CBS 4 Valley will update you on this developing story.

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