DNA testing delays at issue in case of man accused of killing father

EDINBURG — Staffing problems and a backlog of cases at the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Weslaco crime lab may result in the dismissal of murder charges against an Elsa man accused of bludgeoning his father to death.

The prosecution announced Tuesday before a jury was scheduled to be selected for 40-year-old Joseph Robert Nocar that it would dismiss the case and re-indict the man if the crime lab didn’t complete DNA testing by April 27 — Nocar’s new trial date.

Nocar, who has maintained his innocence in letters written to the court and to The Monitor, told his attorney, Alejandro Ballesteros that he wanted to pick a jury Tuesday and go to a trial.

The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office arrested Nocar on Oct. 29, 2017 on a charge of murder for killing 76-year-old Frederik Joseph Nocar, who died on Oct. 24, 2017.

The man’s daughter found him inside his Weslaco home lying in a pool of his own blood after she hadn’t heard from him for more than a week.

At the time of his arrest, Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra alleged Nocar was a known gang member with substance abuse issues who would assault his father for not giving him money for drugs.

In Nocar’s letters, he claims an unknown assailant killed his father.

Pending DNA results were at issue during Tuesday’s hearing — a common problem in criminal cases in Hidalgo County.

The state told state District Judge J.R. “Bobby” Flores that it would waive the DNA evidence if Nocar’s attorneys would stipulate to that waiver.

Ballesteros told Flores he could not waive the DNA results, but insisted they are ready for trial and wanted to pick a jury, telling Flores that Nocar has been in the county jail for 16 months and has requested a speedy trial.

In a December letter to the court, Nocar also addressed the DNA testing.

“These potential DNA results will vindicate me — still no trial nor for seeable (sic) future date — that is realistic and not ultimately ending in a reset at the DA’s request; let it be known I am prepared to wait until the middle of 2020, but no one is going to give me back the almost 2 years of incarceration away from my family and children, nor correct the slander spread to blacken my name on Social Media concerning this false murder charge,” Nocar wrote.

Flores, in his decision to reschedule the trial until late April, told the parties that a jury would be selected with or without the DNA results, prompting the state to announce that it would dismiss the case and re-indict Nocar if those results were not ready.

Ballesteros, Nocar’s defense attorney, again sought a bond reduction during the hearing after Flores ruled to reschedule the trial, adding that if Nocar were able to make bond his speedy trial rights wouldn’t be at issue.

Nocar is currently held on a $100,000 bond, a reduction from the initial $2 million bond he received when he was indicted.

Flores reduced the bond to $50,000 Tuesday.

Ballesteros asked the judge if he would consider a $20,000 bond based on previous testimony from Nocar’s mother, who was in the courtroom Tuesday.

Flores said he would.