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Jury returns verdict

A jury deliberated 20 minutes Monday before finding Levelland resident Pedro Garcia, Jr. guilty of the Feb. 7, 2016 murder of Orestes “West” Garza.
The jury of nine women and three men returned the verdict at 3 p.m. in a Lubbock courtroom.
Garcia, who has no criminal record, could be sentenced to 5-99 years or life in prison for the offense. He has no criminal record. He showed no emotion when the verdict was read.
Before the verdict was announced, District Judge William Eichman II cautioned family members and friends against any emotional outbursts. Eight armed deputies encircled the public portion of the courtroom.
Monday’s testimony resumed with the questioning of Judy Garcia, who said that she and Garza would meet at motels, parks and a church for romantic encounters during their 20-plus year extramarital affair.
When asked by defense attorney Dan Hurley, the witness admitted that she and the victim had met a few times at the community center campus building at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Levelland.
  “We tried to be discreet. We wanted to spend as much time together as we could,” she said, stating that they also met one time at a vacant home in Levelland.
Hurley asked the witness if half of the 1,200 pages of the text messages that investigators found on Garza’s phone were between the two lovers. She said yes.
Under repeated questioning, Garcia said the victim had informed her that he sent a threatening text message to her ex-husband.
Ms. Garcia and Garza were walking to his pickup truck at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church when her ex-husband shot the victim four times with a handgun. He died at University Medical Center.
Both the state and the defense rested after lunch Monday.
In closing arguments,  Monday afternoon, Hurley urged the jury to consider that the defendant was a “model citizen” for 55 years before the shooting. He said his client was a man whose “teapot blew open” when he saw his ex-wife with Garza outside the church.
Prosecutor Sunshine Stanek told jurors that there was no legal justification for the defendant’s actions.
“Pete boiling over is not a legal justification for murder,” Stanek said. “You must look at the evidence in this case.  February 7 was the worst nightmare imaginable. This is something occurring in front of people who could not believe in a million years that this was happening.”
She characterized the defendant as a man who “hunted down West Garza” and shot him “over and over and over.”
Pre-sentencing testimony will continue at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

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