Testimony on Thursday in the Pete Garcia Jr. murder trial focused on an alleged attack on Orestes “West” Garza four months before he was fatally shot at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church in Lubbock.
Prosecutors called on five witnesses on the fourth day of the trial in the 364th District Court as they make their case that Garza’s killing was premeditated. Garza’s defense attorney, Dan Hurley, told jurors in his opening statement on Tuesday that his client “snapped” the night he killed Garza.
Judge William Eichman instructed jurors they could only consider the testimony regarding the assault if they believe Garcia killed Garza.
Garland Timms, who was at the time a Lubbock Police Department detective in the identification section, read to jurors a letter found in Garcia’s home in Levelland after the shooting. The letter, which Garcia likely wrote in preparation for a hearing on a protective order filed against him following the assault, states he learned that his ex-wife, Judy, and Garza had been having an affair for 25 years behind his back after she moved out of the house in March 2015. He accused Garza of manipulating his wife and using his son to get to her.
The couple’s divorce was finalized on Oct. 15, 2015.
“West lied about just being a close friend to Judy,” the letter states.
The letter states the night of the attack, which fell on the same day the divorce was finalized, Garcia’s son, Joshua, told Garcia he was going to Garza’s home in Lubbock to confront him about the affair. Garcia tried to dissuade his son but couldn’t and drove to Garza’s home. That’s when he saw his son and Garza fighting on the ground. He said Garza was on top of his son and he tried to stop the fight. He said Garza lunged at him, and he defended himself by striking Garza and knocking him to the ground.
He said his son never punched Garza but did kick him in the ribs when Garza fell to the ground.
In the letter, Garcia said the fight had nothing to do with his ex-wife, saying it was “a misfortune that just happened. A fight that should not have happened.”
Prosecutors called on plumber Justin McInroe who was working at Garza’s home the night of the assault.
McInroe said while he was working, a man in his 20s arrived at Garza’s home and the two left to talk. About five to 10 minutes later, Garcia, whom McInroe identified in court, arrived looking for the younger man.
McInroe testified he went to his truck to retrieve a tool and saw Garza and the younger man talking in the street. He said Garcia pulled up to the two in a white SUV and the two men began fighting Garza.
The fight ended as McInroe was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher. A recording of the call was played to jurors.
“They’re beating the hell out of him,” McInroe could be heard telling the dispatcher.
McInroe testified he saw Garza get up from the street and go back to his home and noted that Garza’s eyes were swollen.
Garza’s medical records indicated he was taken to University Medical Center by ambulance and was treated for a broken eye socket and a broken nose and was released from the hospital the same day.
Jurors were also presented selected text messages between July 2015 and January 2016 that police downloaded from Garcia’s phone, which his defense attorney argued didn’t provide context.
In one December 2015 text message, Garcia appeared to tell a friend, “Right now Judy is enjoying her new love life that she thinks is real I’m still waiting for her to snap out of it.”
The text messages showed Garcia still tried to convince his ex-wife to come back to him after their divorce was final. About a week after their divorce he tells her, “God wants us to be together, after everything I still love you and adore you.”