One juror released Wednesday due to an illness; trial continues

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

Testimony continued today in the murder trial of Alejandro Garza Jr., who is charged with the Jan. 2, 2006 murder of Javier "Jammer" Sanchez.

Nine witnesses took the stand for the prosecution on Wednesday, when the prosecution focused on phone records and statements allegedly made by Garza and several other people concerning the murder.

The jury heard testimony from Juan "Sony" Sanchez Jr. and Juan "Nini" Sanchez Jr., brothers of Javier Sanchez.

Sony Sanchez testified Garza called him on Jan. 1 to inform him that Jammer had gone "over the limit" in discussing things related to another individual, Oliver "Flaco" Gonzalez. Sony Sanchez told the jury it was his understanding that Flaco ordered the hit against his brother.

Nini Sanchez testified Garza was a member of the Mexican Mafia, and that Garza owned a 9 mm handgun and a .22 caliber firearm. Testimony from Enrique Saenz, the lead investigator in the case, on Tuesday revealed Sanchez had been shot with 9 mm and .22 caliber firearms.

Dr. Ray Fernandez, the Corpus Christi Medical Examiner who conducted an autopsy on Sanchez, testified Wednesday Sanchez was shot three times in his head, once in his shoulder and once in his abdomen. Fernandez also testified toxicology results showed the presence of cocaine and alcohol in Sanchez's body at the time of his death.

Priscilla Salinas, who was with Garza the night of Jan. 1, 2006, testified she saw Garza leave his apartment late in the evening carrying a gun, and later told her that if anyone were to ask her about that night, she should deny that he ever left.

Andres Chavarria, a cousin of Javier Sanchez, told the jury he overheard a telephone conversation between Sanchez, Garza and Gonzalez on Jan. 1, in which Garza informed Sanchez he had "messed up," and that his life was in danger.

Another witness, Christie Cantu, who was living with Gonzalez at the time of the murder, also testified she overheard a telephone conversation between Gonzalez and Garza in the early morning of Jan. 2, in which Garza allegedly told Gonzalez "they were done," and described killing Sanchez "while he was looking up at the sky."

The jury also heard testimony from Texas Ranger Robert Garza Wednesday, who assisted the Jim Wells County Sheriff's Department in the investigation into the murder.

Ranger Garza testified he helped to obtain some of the phone records of various suspects and family members, and helped to locate a Ford Expedition that is believed to have been used to transport Sanchez's body. No forensic evidence linking the vehicle to the crime was ever located, he said.

Under cross examination, Ranger Garza was asked about the background of James Dennis, who was indicted for capital murder in connection with the case, but who has received immunity from the district attorney's office in return for testifying against Alejandro Garza Jr.

Ranger Garza testified Dennis has an extensive criminal background, is a known drug user and is believed to have played a role in the murder.

Dennis has not yet testified in the trial.

One juror was released due to illness Wednesday, and District Judge Richard Terrell appointed an alternate juror to take his place.

The prosecution was expected to continue with its case this morning.