DA’s office to try Alamo man in 2017 murder case

EDINBURG — The Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that it’s ready to try a 20-year-old Alamo resident accused of gunning down a 20-year-old man more than two years ago during an argument over Xanax.

While the state says it’s ready for trial on Jan. 27, Peter Isiah Uvalle’s defense attorney Savannah Angel Gonzalez told state District Judge Bobby Flores that she needs more time to review information on a phone the Secret Service in San Antonio is trying to un-encrypt.

Assistant District Attorney Vance Gonzales told Flores the state is ready for trial without the phone’s password being cracked.

Uvalle is accused of shooting Jonathan Joseph Alcala in the back in the 800 block of West Coyote Trail in Pharr on Dec. 15, 2017.

He has entered a not guilty plea to a charge of murder.

The shooting happened at about 1:30 a.m. after an argument over Xanax.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Alcala had been hanging out in front of his parents’ home when a 2006 GMC truck pulled up with someone in the truck calling out to Alcala. The truck was driven by 28-year-old San Juan resident Omar Perez Garcia, the affidavit read.

Garcia is Uvalle’s cousin and Uvalle was a passenger in the truck.

Santiago Alonso Aguirre, a 22-year-old Pharr resident who was hanging out with Alcala that night, told police he heard an argument followed by gunshots moments later, according to the charging document.

Aguirre said that as we watched Alcala try to run away, he fired a few rounds from a shotgun in the direction of the truck, striking Uvalle in his upper body and leaving Garcia with abrasions, the affidavit stated.

The hearing on Thursday provided another new detail into the crime after Gonzalez, Uvalle’s defense attorney, told Flores, the judge, that she still hadn’t reviewed a Pharr Police Department Internal Affairs file about one of the investigators who pursued the criminal case against Uvalle after his arrest.

Apparently, the investigator had inappropriate contact with a witness in the case and was fired.

Flores told her that he has the documentation and is reviewing it and if there was anything material to the case he would release it to her next week — days before the trial is scheduled.

No one but Flores, the Pharr Police Department, the fired investigator and the witness know what that inappropriate contact is, apparently.

However, there’s a good chance the trial won’t go because cracking the passcode on the phone that Gonzalez wants to review, could take a long time.

During the hearing, Gonzales, the prosecutor, told Flores that the phone had a six-digit password containing the numerals 1 through 9. The Secret Service could only try one combination every 15 minutes because anymore tries would cause the phone to lock, according to Gonzales.

As for Garcia and Aguirre, they also face charges.

Garcia is charged with charged with murder.

Aguirre is facing charges of tampering with physical evidence, two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and a count manufacturing and delivering a controlled substance.