Additional misplaced records in Feit’s case found; appeal still delayed

EDINBURG — A hearing scheduled Wednesday to determine how lost records could affect John Feit’s appeal of his murder case was postponed by agreement of all parties after misplaced records were found.

The decision was made in state District Court Judge Luis Singleterry’s chambers and came after court reporter Julian Alderette filed a supplemental reporter’s record Tuesday with the 13th Court of Appeals. The filing did not detail what this latest record entails, but Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez Jr. said the documents pertained to 2017 court filings and hearings.

Wednesday’s hearing, however, had been to discuss records from 2016, which were lost after the hard drive belonging to Alderette, Singleterry’s court reporter, “was dropped and damaged,” according to an affidavit Alderette filed. As a result, Alderette was unable to provide the appeals court with a transcript of any 2016 hearings from Feit’s case.

In 2017, a Hidalgo County jury convicted Feit, an 86-year-old former priest, of the 1960 murder of his former parishioner, Irene Garza. Feit’s attorney, O. Rene Flores, filed a notice of appeal the next month, but has yet to submit a brief detailing his arguments as to why the appellate justices should reverse Feit’s conviction.

Flores has cited the delay in the court reporter’s full transcript of the case as a reason for his own delay in filing his brief.

Singleterry is expected to ask the 13th Court of Appeals for more time to hold the hearing on the 2016 records. The court had initially given the judge 30 days from the April 4 order to hold this hearing.

Rodriguez said he “feels confident” prosecutors and Flores “will be able to agree and make a record of whatever hasn’t been turned over to the court of appeals.” That would likely entail recreating a transcript of all 2016 hearings, which include Feit’s arraignment and three pre-trial hearings.