DA cites COVID-19 executive order in opposition to murder suspect receiving PR bond

A 40-year-old Elsa man accused of killing his father in 2017 walked out of jail Thursday on a $250,000 personal recognizance bond.

Joseph Robert Nocar, who has steadfastly maintained his innocence in letters written to the court and to The Monitor, is charged with murder for the Oct. 24, 2017, death of 76-year-old Frederick Joseph Nocar, whose daughter found him lying in a pool of his own blood inside his Weslaco home.

On Wednesday, state district Judge J.R. “Bobby” Flores granted Joseph Robert Nocar the personal recognizance bond. Jail records indicate the man was released Thursday.

The Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office is opposed to the man’s release and filed a motion Thursday seeking reconsideration on the decision or in the alternative, an increase in bond, arguing that he is not entitled to a personal recognizance bond.

The DA’s Office cites an executive order signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in response to county jails releasing prisoners in attempts to curb the spread of COVID-19 inside prisons.

That executive order followed Harris County’s decision to release hundreds of prisoners because of COVID-19 that drew opposition from state lawmakers and law enforcement.

The order prohibits the release of anyone previously convicted of an offense involving physical violence or the threat of violence or anyone currently arrested for an offense involving physical violence from being released on a personal recognizance bond.

A hearing on the state’s motion is scheduled for next week.

As for Joseph Robert Nocar, he has repeatedly demanded a jury trial, most recently in December.

But, because of the DNA backlog at the Texas Department of Public Safety Weslaco crime lab, the state has received continuances.

While the DNA delay has postponed the man’s trial, in a letter to the court he has claimed the DNA will vindicate him.

“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.

In another development in the case, the man’s mother, Maria Arsilia Becerra, filed an affidavit that a witness in the case, Raul Zavala, her former boyfriend, told prosecutors the sworn statements he provided to law enforcement were coerced.

“Raul Zavala’s mental state is deteriorating, and he has trouble with his memory,” Becerra wrote in the affidavit. “He has recently told the prosecutors in my son’s case that the sworn statements he originally provided to law enforcement was not true, and that is (sic) was coerced out of him by law enforcement.”

She says Zavala has known her son since he was seven and has been a longtime family friend.

“Due to his failing mental state and his lack of memory, he has changed his story several times,” Becerra wrote. “He has told me he will not come to court. I fear that by the time my son’s case goes to trial, Mr. Raul Zavala will either not present himself, or will lack the mental capacity to accurately testify.”

If that happens, Becerra believes that Zavala’s testimony can vindicate her son.

“His unavailability due to his own decisions or due to his incapacity will prevent the truth from coming out and will severely impair my son’s defense,” Becerra wrote. “The truth that can be provided right now by Mr. Zavala will set my son free, but I fear the window is closing or has closed, due to my son’s trial being continuously delayed by the court or prosecutors.”

Court records do not reflect a new trial date.

As for who killed Frederick Joseph Nocar, his son blames an “unknown assailant” while authorities have alleged Joseph Robert Nocar was a known gang member with substance abuse issues who would assault his father for not giving him money for drugs.