Starr murder trial begins Tuesday

Trial begins Tuesday morning for the lead defendant in the brutal 2017 death of a Rio Grande City teenager whose dismembered remains were discovered in a Roma ranch.

Chayse Olivarez, who was 17 at the time of his death, went missing on July 30, 2017. Less than two weeks later, Starr County law enforcement officials reported they had discovered his remains.

Four men were eventually arrested on allegations they were involved in Olivarez’s death and disposal of his remains.

Jose Luis Garcia Jr., 19, is charged with capital murder and tampering with physical evidence in connection with Olivarez’s death. His trial scheduled to begin Tuesday morning.

He was arrested on Aug. 11, 2017, and was interviewed by law enforcement about the case. However, his defense attorneys filed a motion to suppress the statements he made at that time, which was the focus of a hearing held Friday.

Part of the defense’s arguments for suppressing Garcia’s statements was that they were involuntary, that he was deprived of his right to counsel and that his statements “were tainted by the illegal and unlawful detention and arrest,” the motion stated.

On Monday, visiting state District Judge Rogelio Valdez sided with the state prosecutors, ruling that Garcia’s statements could be used during trial.

Though the relationship between Garcia and Olivarez remains unclear, there have been indications through testimony leading up to the trial.

Another of the defendants in the case, Sebastian Torres, was a minor at the time of Olivarez’s death and therefore had to first go through a certification hearing in order to be tried as an adult. During testimony for that hearing in December 2017, Eric Lopez, a Texas Ranger investigating the case, testified that Garcia had told authorities that Olivarez had robbed him of marijuana brownies and $67 worth of Xanax pills.

Lopez also testified that Torres, now 18, admitted that Garcia offered him money to help pick up Olivarez and lure him to a ranch. Torres said Olivarez was taken to an abandoned house on the ranch, where Garcia was waiting. It was there he witnessed Garcia shoot Olivarez “seven to eight times,” according to Lopez’s testimony.

Torres’ trial is currently set for Nov. 12.

Jury selection for Garcia’s trial took place Monday afternoon and testimony will begin Tuesday morning.