EDINBURG — Jury selection is set to begin Tuesday in the trial of a McAllen man accused in the strangulation death of his mother’s healthcare provider.
Prosecutors for the state announced Monday they were ready for trial in the case of Juan Manuel Hernandez, 37, who was arrested in late October 2017 after he reported the woman’s death.
According to the criminal complaint against him, Hernandez went to the McAllen Police Department the afternoon of Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, to report that he had found the body of Alisa Maria Garza in her car in front of his apartment the previous evening.
He told authorities she was his elderly mother’s healthcare provider.
Hernandez told police the body was wrapped up like a “cocoon” in the backseat of Garza’s vehicle, according to the criminal complaint.
He did not report the body to authorities that evening but told police he took her body inside his apartment, where he found a knife “still lodged to her right rib cage.”
Police subsequently went to Hernandez’s apartment in the 600 block of Broadway Street, where neighbors reported having heard a scream coming from inside the apartment an hour before police arrived.
Officers then found the 61-year-old woman’s body inside, wrapped in a blanket, sheet and plastic.
“They saw she had a stab wound to her right rib cage area and ligature marks on her neck,” the complaint read.
Garza, according to the indictment, died as a result of asphyxiation.
Neighbors also told police Hernandez had asked for a tarp on the night of Oct. 27 and said they witnessed “what appeared to be a large wrapped bundle the size of a body in a brown blanket leaned up against the passenger side of Mrs. Garza’s car” at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 28 — the same day he reported Garza’s death to police.
Garza’s roommate subsequently told investigators she had last seen the victim on Wednesday, Oct. 25.
Hernandez “denied killing Mrs. Garza but did admit to being with (her) on… (Oct. 25),” the complaint read.
He also admitted to using drugs the evening before he reported her death in addition to cutting his wrist with the knife he allegedly removed from her body, according to the complaint.
If convicted of Garza’s murder, Hernandez, who is being represented by attorney Jesus Villalobos, could face up to as much as life in prison.
The state will be represented by Assistant District Attorney Lauren Sepulveda during trial.