Starr Co. murder case trial begins Tuesday

EDINBURG — Nearly three years after the deaths of a Rio Grande City man and his three-year-old son, the trial for the lone suspect in the case is set to begin Tuesday afternoon.

Jury selection for Jesus Angel Rebollar’s trial is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, with opening statements to follow. Visiting Judge Jose Longoria will preside over the case.

Depending on time availability, state prosecutors could begin presenting evidence that afternoon, as well.

Rebollar is charged with capital murder in the 2016 deaths of Hector Garcia Jr., 41, and his son, Julian Garcia, 3, who were gunned down Nov. 6 2016 at the intersection of Woods Brothers Road and Segunada Road in Rio Grande City.

At the time, authorities said several individuals driving a blue Ford pick-up were suspected of being involved, however, only Rebollar has been charged in the case so far.

Rebollar was in court Monday morning for a final pre-trial hearing during which his attorney, O. Rene Flores, addressed motions he filed restricting what evidence the state prosecutors could present during trial, including extraneous matters, sidebar remarks, hearsay statements, and restricting expert testimony until a hearing on the reliability of the expert witness is held.

Prosecutors are also restricted from revealing to the jury that Rebollar filed an election on punishment — a selection of who will render punishment if he is convicted — to avoid the possibility that it might influence the jurors’ decision.

An election of punishment is required by law and Rebollar elected to have the court render his sentence if he is found guilty.

Flores also reiterated Rebollar’s decision to reject a plea agreement and decision to waive his right to challenge the admissibility of a statement he made to law enforcement.

During the hearing, the judge asked possible witnesses to identify themselves and instructed them to remain outside of the courtroom during the duration of the trial.

Those in attendance included Texas Rangers Patrick O’Connor, Robert Garcia and Lt. Rolando A. Villarreal Jr.

Other possible witnesses in attendance included Maria Antonia Salinas, Jose Eduardo Salinas, and Abel Villarreal — an attorney formerly with the 229th District Attorney’s office out of Starr County, the office prosecuting the case.

The state’s witness list, however, includes at least 30 more individuals including staff from the Starr County Memorial Hospital, the DPS Crime Lab, the Starr County Sheriff’s Office, and former Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Jesus Barrera.

bereniceg@themonitor.com