Trio arraigned on kidnapping, killing accusations

Edna Rivera and Julio Cesar Deleon

EDINBURG — Two Mission residents and a Peñitas man entered not guilty pleas to charges of capital murder Monday over accusations they kidnapped and killed a man in July.

Peñitas resident Julio Cesar Deleon, 25, 28-year-old Edna Rivera and 20-year-old Alfredo Huerta, both of Mission, are accused of murdering 23-year-old Fernando Garza Jr. on July 24.

The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office arrested the trio in late July and accused them of binding Fernando Garza Jr.’s hands and those of a man Rivera only knew as “Gordo” inside Rivera’s residence and taking the pair to an orchard where Deleon shot Fernando Garza Jr. in the face, leaving him for dead, according to probable cause affidavits in the arrest.

Rivera told investigators she did not go with Deleon and Huerta to the orchard and it’s not clear why they decided to not shoot the man Rivera knew as “Gordo.”

Huerta Alfredo

Probable cause affidavits don’t make it clear whether a man named Luis Domingo Dominguez is “Gordo,” but when Fernando Garza Sr., the victim’s father, was searching for his missing son he encountered Huerta and Dominguez.

Huerta told Fernando Garza Sr. that he and Dominguez had been kidnapped.

“(Huerta) state that (Deleon) had shot and killed Fernando in an orchard and that he and (Dominguez) managed to escape,” according to the charging document.

That statement conflicts with what Rivera told investigators, saying she helped Deleon and Huerta bind the hands of Fernando Garza Jr. and the man she knew as “Gordo.”

The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office arrested Deleon and Rivera the same day investigators discovered Fernando Garza Jr.’s body while Huerta was arrested nearly a week after the murder.

Dominguez has not been charged in the case.

mreagan@themonitor.com