Trial's opening arguments heard in district court

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

Opening arguments began today in the murder trial of Marie Gallegos, who is charged with the October 2005 murder of an Alice man.

Jury selection was held Monday in the 79th District Court, and a jury of 10 women, two men and two male alternates was selected.

Gallegos, 23, was indicted by a Jim Wells County grand jury April 25, 2006 on charges of murder and arson. She was arrested Oct. 24, 2005 for allegedly stabbing an Alice man, Jimmy Brown, in the neck and setting fire to his house in the 700 block of Lantana Street. Brown reportedly was still in the home at the time of the fire.

In a pre-trial hearing held Jan. 17, both sides in the case agreed the murder and arson charges against Gallegos would be tried separately. Monday's jury selection was reportedly scheduled for a trial of the murder charge, with a trial on the arson charge to be reset to a later date.

Gallegos was arrested and charged with the murder of Brown when she and a juvenile were spotted on Oct. 24, 2005 by an off-duty police officer who called for back up from the sheriff's department. Gallegos was with a juvenile, who was driving a yellow Ford station wagon belonging to Brown, who was in his 70s.

Gallegos is represented by Alice attorney Homero Canales.

District Judge Richard Terrell is the presiding judge in the case.

In May 2006, Judge Terrell rejected a plea bargain that had been reached between the district attorney's office and Gallegos. Under the terms of that agreement, Gallegos would have pleaded guilty to the charges of murder and arson in return for a 15-year jail sentence, a $10,000 fine and court costs totalling $286.