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Wednesday trial testimony

Jurors on Wednesday heard a 911 recording of a man who said he was “Pete” and claimed he had just shot a person.
The recording was played during the second day of testimony in the trial of Pete Garcia Jr., a   Levelland man who is charged in the Feb. 7, 2016 shooting death of Orestes “West” Garza outside a  Lubbock church. The trial is being held in the Lubbock County Courthouse.
“I need to turn myself in. My name is Pete,” the caller told a Levelland Police Department dispatcher. “I’m wanted over in Lubbock for shooting somebody.”
Cole Kirkland, communications supervisor with the Levelland Police Department, was the dispatcher who answered the 911 call that evening.
In the recording, the caller said he was “with family” members at a Cherry Street home in Levelland. He told Kirkland that he was not armed. A woman who came on the phone told the dispatcher, “We’re all around him praying.”
Asked about Garcia’s arrest, Kirkland said that it went smoothly a short time later.
Prosecutor Sunshine Stanek asked the witness if his department had access to protective orders. Kirkland said yes, noting that the defendant had been served with two protective orders in the past.
Dennis Price, district clerk in Hockley County, confirmed that Garcia had been served with two such orders. One was served in November 2015, the second one a month later. One protective order was between West Garza and the defendant; the second one was between  Garcia and his ex-wife, Judy Garcia.
Jurors viewed a video recording that showed the defendant buying a .380-caliber handgun from Cabela’s in Lubbock on Jan. 20, 2016. Defense attorney Dan Hurley  asked the store’s general manager, Nick Weaver, if there were rules disqualifying individuals from buying handguns.
Weaver said there are. Hurley asked if having a protective order in effect would prevent a person from buying a handgun. The witness said yes. Weaver said his company submits background checks to the FBI on such purchases.
Former Levelland High School principal Ray Vasquez said he got a phone call from the defendant the evening of the shooting.
“He called and told me. He was very emotional,” said Vasquez. “He said, ‘I got him, I got him.’ He had shot West. It was surreal. He was not the character we knew. I told him to turn himself in.”
Vasquez said that Garcia called him a second time, 20 minutes later, and said he would turn himself in to authorities.
The witness said he had known Garcia for 15-20 years, and the two families were friends and  some times took trips together.  He described Garcia as a “good person, a caring individual and friendly.” He was also an involved member at St. Michael’s Catholic Church.
Vasquez said Garcia seemed to become more emotional, and perhaps depressed, after he and his wife, Judy, separated in 2015.
Garza died as the result of four gunshot wounds to the torso, said Dr. Sridhar Natarajan, chief medical examiner for Lubbock County.
In a review of autopsy photographs, Natarajan  noted that the victim suffered three gunshot wounds to the back. A fourth injury, on the back, was apparently made from a bullet that struck Garza in the front of his body, before angling left and ending near the right rear portion of his back. The witness said the victim was probably hit first – three times in the back – before the fourth bullet hit him in the front.
Natarajan said the manner of death for Garza was a homicide.
Garland Timms, an investigator with the Lubbock County District Attorney’s Office, said that he and detectives with the Lubbock Police Department went to Levelland the day after the shooting to collect evidence from the defendant’s vehicle and his home.
Among the items retrieved were Garcia’s iPhone, binoculars and a box of ammunition. The ammo was found in the defendant’s Nissan Armada.
Testimony was slated to resume at 9 a.m. Thursday in the 72nd District Court.

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