This week is the second week of the capital murder trial of Jesus Angel Rebollar in the murder of Hector Garcia Jr. and his three-year-old son Julian Garcia on November 6, 2016. The brutal murder has been hard to tough on the entire community and the pain experienced by the family cannot be ignored.
Assistant District Attorney Gilbert Hernandez has taken the lead for the prosecution with newcomer Assistant District Attorney Melissandra Mendoza under the careful watch of the 229th District Attorney Omar Escobar.
The State called on a number of law enforcement officers, deputies and investigators to testify. This included the testimony of the first deputies to make it to the scene; Gumaro Trevino and Constable Jose Rocha. Both of the men gave chilling testimony of the condition of the victims. Hector was slouched over the body of young Julian who was still alive but appeared to be critical. When the deputy approached and asked if everyone was ok the child raised his hand screaming. The deputies testified at length to taking the child to a where a nearby ambulance was waiting and having to turn around when his conditioned worsen. The father had nearly gunshot wounds and the child six wounds. Testimony from EMS staff Fidel Garcia explained that the child was not able to be flown out of the county because his heartrate and blood pressure got critically low.
Former Investigator for the District Attorney’s Office Trinidad Lopez gave testimony to the casing found at the scene. He explained finding about 25 casings of what appeared to be the same caliber. Lopez included a diagram of where the casings were found but also said that the perimeter was not secure. It was possible that some of the casings were moved from the place in which they would have originally landed.
Former investigator for the Starr County Sheriff’s Office Juan Angel Alaniz testified to the condition of the 1980 blue Chevy driven by Hector Garcia. The truck was still on when he was on the scene but he could hear possible engine damage. There were significant bullet holes throughout the body of the truck. A Texas Ranger would later testify that there were nearly 30 entrance defects consistent with a bullet hit.
One of the tougher moments were the details given by Dr. Norma Jean Farley, MD who conducted the autopsy. She gave more evidence as to the condition of the victims following. The shooting.
Two testimonies gave evidence that supported the accusations against Rebollar; testimony of a witness and the possible presence of gun shot residue.
Jose Eduardo Salinas was driving with his wife Maria Antonia Salinas behind the victim and it was the couple that called 911 to call for help. Salinas confidently identified Rebollar in the courtroom as the person he saw shooting at the truck driven by Hector Garcia. Although the defense pointed out the way that the identification of his client was done was suggestive Salinas maintained that he believed the shooter to be Jesus Angel Rebollar.
Waleska Castro, PhD testified that the clothing tested for gunshot residue was consistent with primer used in most ammunition. Her report was later scrutinized by the expert witness in the field called to testify for the defense. His testimony contradicted the previous because he claimed that the compound included Barium and Aluminum but not a third element that is normally found in gun shot residue.
Two Texas Ranger investigators testified; Bobby Garcia and Roland Villarreal Jr. Both testified to their involvement in the case or rather the investigation but their testimony differed in the way they themselves would conduct a photo lineup to determine the identification of a suspect. While Garcia testified that he would submit the photo of the suspect to their Austin office to get a lineup of five suspects that were similar to the person in question Villarreal testified that the procedure used to have the witness identify the suspect was different. Villarreal justified the process because the photograph he had would have made it difficult to obtain a traditional photo lineup. Instead he used three photographs to see who if anyone the witness would point to as the shooter. He further explained that he did not know if the witness would find the shooter in the pictures.
The defense started with Rebollar’s ex-girlfriend Flor Daniela Perez Garza. Unfortunately, her testimony seemed inconsistent with her previous interview with law enforcement. Jurors then heard from Norma Leticia Saenz. A teary-eyed Saenz told the court that she knew Rebollar because he was a friend of her son Luis Basaldua and that in November of 2016 he was living in her home with his gf and her baby. On the night of November 6th, she was in Houston. She claims that she knows Rebollar was in the home because her daughters were complaining that the boys had locked them out and wouldn’t open the door. District Attorney Omar Escobar objected that Saenz had no personal knowledge since she was not at the home.
Before the end of the day the court heard from Luis Basaldua who gave an alibi for Jesus Angel Rebollar on the night of November 6th. According to Basaldua Rebollar along with several of his friends had slept over his house. They had woken late after playing video games all night and made something to eat. After eating, between 6pm and 7pm they went to get a haircut at the home of Jose Mata. Flores asked did you hear anything unusual. Yes, replied Basaldua, describing sirens in the background. He stated that the home of Mata has surveillance video and that he had told investigators the same story before however, he says the investigators intimidated him. The afternoon wrapped up after Basaldua was cross examined by Escobar as to how he knew the whereabouts of Rebollar.
This update includes testimony until Tuesday afternoon and the trial is expected to continue Wednesday morning.