Will the 10th time be the charm?
State District Judge J.R. “Bobby” Flores set a June 22 trial date for 40-year-old Joseph Robert Nocar, who authorities accuse of bludgeoning his 76-year-old father to death in late 2018.
Nocar, who has maintained his innocence since his Oct. 31, 2018, arrest, has repeatedly requested a jury trial. The June 22 trial date is the 10th time his case has been scheduled for jury trial.
And now, in a response to a motion the Hidalgo District Attorney’s Office filed seeking to revoke or increase the personal recognizance bond he received in late April, his defense attorney, Alejandro Ballesteros, says the state’s only witness has recanted and the long-awaited DNA test on blood found on his client’s possessions doesn’t belong to the man’s father.
The blood belongs to Nocar, according to Ballesteros’ motion.
Authorities discovered Frederick Joseph Nocar’s body in a pool of blood in his Weslaco home on Oct. 24, 2018 after the man’s daughter called deputies to report that she was unable to reach her father for a week.
An autopsy revealed that he died from blunt force trauma to the head after being “chopped” with a blunt object, Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra said at a news conference announcing Nocar’s arrest.
A probable cause affidavit alleged that after discovering the man’s lifeless body investigators received an anonymous tip fingering Nocar as being involved with the murder.
Nocar later gave the investigators consent to search his truck where they discovered a drop of blood on the exterior of the driver’s side door, according to the charging document.
“A witness then came forward and informed sheriff’s investigators that he was told by Joseph Robert Nocar that he killed the victim and provided information about the injuries sustained by the victim that were not released to the public that were revealed to him by Joseph,” the affidavit stated.
Guerra indicated after the arrest that Nocar had a substance abuse problem and that his office was told the man had assaulted his father in his past when his father had not given him money to buy drugs. Guerra also said Nocar had a lengthy criminal history and is a gang member.
Nocar has said in letters to the court and to The Monitor that investigators rushed to judgment because of his past and because of his tattoos. He has also said an “unknown assailant” is responsible for his father’s death.
As for that witness, authorities haven’t said who it is, but Nocar’s mother recently filed an affidavit with the court saying her ex-boyfriend, Raul Zavala, told prosecutors in a sworn statement that his statements to law enforcements were coerced.
The motion Ballesteros filed echoes that affidavit in saying the state’s witness has recanted on at lease one occasion.
“The State of Texas secured its arrest warrant and based its indictment on the word of one witness who claimed that Mr. Nocar made an incriminating statement regarding the offense,” the motion reads. “The state’s witness has since recanted on at least one occasion and has proven to be not credible. The witness is available and willing to testify live that he was coerced and by law enforcement.”
Then there’s the blood evidence. It’s not clear whether Ballesteros’ motion is referencing the same blood that the probable cause affidavit mentioned, but the defense attorney said the DNA analysis revealed the blood belonged to Nocar, not his father.
“The State of Texas, simply put, has no other evidence,” according to Nocar’s defense attorney.
As for the DA’s motion to revoke or increase Nocar’s personal recognizance bond, court records indicate the hearing was held and jail records indicate Nocar remains free on his $250,000 personal recognizance bond that was set in late April — on the eve of his ninth jury trial date.