Jesus Angel Rebollar received two life sentences after being found guilty of two charges for the murder of Hector Garcia Jr. and his three-year-old son Julian. Rebollar was found guilty of murder of a person less than 10 years of age and guilty of murdering multiple people by an Hidalgo County jury last Thursday.
The state represented by Gilbert Hernandez and Melissandr started the trial by painting the scene of the crime for the jury through testimony of investigators, deputies and rangers. They spoke of seeing Hector’s lifeless body nearly covering his son. Young Julian was barely alive but managed to scream when he heard the deputies and lift his hand. Law enforcement officers bravely spoke of getting him first aid and of his last moments. There was testimony of the chaos at the scene, the state of the truck and the number of shots to the bodies. Certainly, a terrible crime but it was the testimony of a witness and a gunshot residue expert that attempted to link Rebollar to the kill. The witness was able to identify Rebollar in a line up of three pictures and seemed very confident.
Defense attorney O. Rene Garza combated the identification by discrediting the eyewitness. Garza questioned how the lineup was conducting and using the testimony of a Texas Ranger demonstrated that the normal method of obtaining five pictures similar to the suspect was not used. Through an expert witness Garza also attempted to place doubt in the jurors’ minds as to whether it was reasonable to believe that a witness could identify Rebollar. The ace in the deck for the defense was through the testimony of Luis Basaldua, a friend of Rebollar. Basaldua gave an alibi. He stated that on the day of the murder, November 6th of 2016 Rebollar was with him all day. Not only was he with Rebollar all day but he claimed there was video of them getting a haircut.
During cross examination by District Attorney Omar Escobar the story somewhat changed. There were time frames in which Rebollar was not with Basaldua. The video became somewhat troublesome due to the time. It was nearly 8pm when the video was taken. The murder happened before 6pm or at the very least before 8pm. While there was some discussion of the time change being an issue it still meant that the murder could have happened prior to the video.
It took the jury less than three hours to deliberate before returning a guilty verdict. In the courtroom there were few dry eyes as family members of Garcia addressed Rebollar. A family member of Rebollar reached out to the Garcia saying that he wanted for any animosity between the families to end there. To some degree both families agreed there were no winners but comments on social media did not seem to follow the sentiment of Rebollar’s family during court. What has followed has been a series of critiques and calls of corruption over the verdict.
Rene Garza explained that he did not agree with the verdict but that it was a part of the justice system and he respected the decision. Garza did mention that an appeal is likely although he would not be the appellate attorney.
District Attorney Omar Escobar said, “The story isn’t ending here, not by a long shot but this verdict is going to go a long-ways. I think years from now we are going to look back at this verdict and say that was a turning point to this case and maybe other cases.”