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Jury hears testimony in first day of murder trial

By John Rigg

A Lubbock jury of nine women and three men began hearing the trial of Pedro (Pete) Garcia, Jr. Tuesday morning before 364th District Judge William Eichmann.

Garcia, 56, is charged with the murder of 51-year-old Orestes (West) Garza in the shooting that occurred Feb. 7, 2016 on the parking lot of St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church in Lubbock.

A Lubbock area man, Pedro Salinas, identified Garcia as the man he chased after the defendant fled the shooting scene that took the life of Garza.

State prosecution witness Marie Escobedo said she was attending Mass at the church the afternoon of the shooting. 

“I heard a noise outside like fireworks,” Escobedo said. “I saw a guy with a gun and he was shooting. I saw him shooting. I remember yelling, ‘Hey, what are you doing!’”

She said he was holding a small black handgun. 

Testimony continued Tuesday afternoon and is expected to last more than a week. The jury was selected late Monday afternoon. If convicted, Garcia could be sentenced to a range of five years to life in prison. 

Garcia has been held at the Lubbock County Detention Center since he surrendered to authorities in Levelland hours after the fatal shooting.  

Read the full story in the Wednesday edition of the News-Press.

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