Jury foreman says they believed witness testimony

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

An Alice man faces life in prison after a jury found him guilty of capital murder Friday.

Following three days of testimony, a Jim Wells County jury deliberated for more than two hours before returning a guilty verdict in the capital murder trial of Alejandro Carbajal Garza Jr.

Garza was charged with the Jan. 2, 2006 murder of Javier Sanchez.

In his closing arguments, District Attorney Joe Frank Garza challenged the jury to examine all of the testimony and evidence presented during the trial.

"This is a very difficult case. It involves a lot of items, a lot of evidence," D.A. Garza said. "Do not let this man hit the streets of this town."

Defense attorney Keith Gould presented the case as a puzzle, and said the prosecution had not put the pieces together.

"They don't care about bringing the murderers to justice, they only care about getting a conviction against my client," Gould said.

Garza is one of four men who have been indicted on capital murder charges in the case, which involved an execution-style shooting of Sanchez.

Two of those men, Alonzo "Lowrider" Gonzalez and Alfred "Casper" Gonzales, have not yet gone to trial.

Testimony during the week focused on Garza's ties to the Mexican Mafia, as well as drug use by several of the witnesses and the victim in the case.

Gould said he was "shocked" by the jury's verdict Friday, and said he felt the prosecution's main witness, James Dennis, should not have been found credible by the jury.

"It seems to me that the witnesses for the state lacked credibility," Gould said. "But, of course, credibility is the jury's call."

Dennis is one of the four men who were indicted for the murder of Sanchez, but he was given immunity by the prosecution in exchange for his testimony against Garza.

When asked what had led the jury to reach its decision, the jury foreman, who asked that his name not be used, said it was a difficult decision, but the jury was convinced Garza was guilty.

"There was a lot of evidence," the foreman said. "We believed the statements (the witnesses) made."

D.A. Garza said he was pleased with the outcome, and said the Sanchez family had received justice.

"It's very hard for 12 people to stand in judgement of another, but it's my job to present the evidence," he said. "I'm glad the jury saw who the players were and brought a decision of guilty."

In addition to the families of the defendant and the victim, the courtroom was filled Friday with more than 10 officers from the Jim Wells County Sheriff's Department, the Alice Police Department and the Department of Public Safety, to provide security while the verdict was read.

Family members of the defendant and the victim were kept separate as the court was adjourned Friday, and security was provided for jury members as they left the courthouse.

A sentencing hearing is expected to be scheduled next week before District Judge Richard Terrell. Under the Texas Penal Code, capital murder convictions require a life sentence, with no possibility of parole.

Gould said the defense would appeal the jury's decision.