Defense attorneys argue the killing of Orestes “West” Garza was a crime of sudden passion by a man attacking his ex-wife’s lover.
The Lubbock singer was shot three times in the back, then fell to the ground facing his attacker, who shot him one last time in the genitals, said Dr. Sridhar Natarajan, who was one of eight witnesses called on by the state Wednesday, with prosecutors arguing Garza’s killing was an act of premeditated murder.
Wednesday was the third day of Pete Garcia’s murder trial in the 364th District Court.
He faces a punishment of five years to life in prison.
However, a sudden passion finding by the jury in the punishment phase of the trial could decrease the punishment range to two to 20 years in prison.
Garcia, 56, is accused in the Feb. 7, 2016, shooting death of Garza, 51, who was dating Garcia’s ex-wife, Judy.
Witnesses told jurors on Tuesday they saw an unidentified man walk up to Garza at the St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church parking lot and shoot him in the back and once more when he was on the ground before running away.
Natarajan was called to help guide jurors through the autopsy process in Garza’s homicide, which included a presentation of photos of his injuries. Natarajan told jurors one of the bullets that struck Garza in the back damaged his spinal cord and likely caused him to fall on the ground. The final gunshot, he believes, struck Garza in the groin.
Photos of the crime scene showed a small pooling of blood on the seam of a concrete slab on a sidewalk by the parking lot. Natarajan said he believed the clothing Garza wore that day soaked up a lot of blood and the EMTs’ quick response in taking him to University Medical Center explained why there was so little blood on the scene.
Natarajan also documented efforts by physicians at the hospital to save Garza.
Prosecutors also called on Nicholas Weaver, the general manager of Cabela’s, where records show Garcia bought a handgun about two weeks before the shooting. Weaver said Garcia applied for the gun on Jan. 15, 2016, and returned to the store five days later to pick up the weapon, a Browning .380 semi-auto pistol. Weaver said Garcia went through an FBI background check, which cleared him to purchase the firearm, despite having an active protective order being filed against him in a Hockley County court.
Records show Garcia was served protective orders in November and December prohibiting him from contacting Garza or his ex-wife.
Jurors also heard the call Garcia made to a Levelland dispatcher asking to be picked up for shooting Garza.
The trial is scheduled to continue Thursday.