Starr Co. DA Weighs in On 'Not Guilty' Verdict in Murder Trial
EDINBURG – The Starr County District Attorney is one of many surprised to hear the "not guilty" verdict in the trial for Jose Luis Garcia, Jr. accused of killing Chayse Olivarez in Starr County.
Garcia walked out of the courthouse around 2 a.m. making a sign of the holy cross and pointing a finger to heaven.
Chayse Olivarez's mother walked out with her head shrouded in a sweater in an effort to conceal her visible pain and sobbing.
Garcia is no longer facing the possibility of a life sentence.
Starr County DA Omar Escobar, fresh off another murder trial, said this was an unexpected outcome.
"We had a verdict a few weeks ago on another capital murder case that I thought was a much more difficult case in terms of evidence. Yet, that one was a guilty verdict. So, it's just this one was an extremely strange, I'm going to say, a very strange verdict," said Escobar.
Inside the courtroom, a jury saw Garcia portrayed as a student with good grades and as a dedicated football player. Olivarez's character was described unfavorably by witnesses for the defense.
Escobar says there were "too many uncorroborated, unsubstantiated allegations that were made against the victim's family. Sort of wanted to make the victim, Chayse, some kind of a monster. Some kind of a person who was dangerous."
A key part of the evidence may have been disregarded by the jury. It was the videotaped interview between Garcia and a Texas Ranger in which he confessed to the killing and even walked them through the crime scene.
The defense attorneys pointed out problems in the way in which the interview was conducted. At one point in the trial, the ranger affirmed he used deception to get Garcia to talk to him.
Escobar says the jury was "I guess, deliberating on that first and were considering whether the actions of the officer, or the Ranger, were legal as far as obtaining the confession and I think that did weigh into some of the verdict in this particular case."
If the jury chose to exclude the video confession, Escobar believes it would have affected the other two counts of tampering with evidence.
Yet, Garcia was found guilty on one charge of tampering with physical evidence. If convicted, that maximum penalty for that charge of 10 years.
The sentencing is scheduled to start Friday at 1 p.m.