Mark Reagan

Mark Reagan is a reporter for The Monitor. He can be reached at or at (956) 683-4437.

Man accused of killing STC security guard 20 years ago appears in court

The digital-analog divide has raised its head as the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office and a defense attorney explore evidence in the case of a man accused of killing a South Texas College security guard more than two decades ago. Roberto Ivanovich Ojeda Hernandez, 40, appeared in court Friday morning for a discovery hearing in his case, where he is charged with capital murder over accusations that he stormed into an STC classroom on Jan. 13, 1998, where students were registering for classes and opened fire. Carlos Hernandez, 32, died in the gunfire, which injured three other students. Read the full story at

Trial date scheduled for man who threw fatal New Year’s punch

A man charged with manslaughter for throwing a fatal punch on New Year’s Day in 2018 nearly found himself back in jail after being on supervised release for a little more than two months. Alfonso Flores Alejandro, a 42-year-old Mercedes man, appeared in court Thursday morning for a pre-trial hearing where his defense attorney announced the man would go to trial in the case where he also faces a charge of aggravated assault of a family member. Mercedes police arrested Alejandro at 2 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2018, after he “knocked out” his brother-in-law Jose Duran, killing the man. Read the full story at

Two die in overnight blazes, Pharr chief warns of fire hazards during winter

When the first real cold fronts arrive at the border, fires often break out in houses across the Rio Grande Valley. That proved tragically true late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning for two people in two separate fires. Pharr Fire Chief Lenny Perez said his department responded to a blaze at 125 W. Guerra St. after receiving a call of a house fire at 1:30 a.m. Thursday. Read the full story at

Man claims Alamo falsifying water reports to state agency

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality confirms it is investigating the city of Alamo’s water supply system. “TCEQ records show that the agency has an open investigation of the city’s public water supply system that was initiated in response to a complaint received on Aug. 12, 2019, alleging concerns with the city’s documentation reported to the TCEQ,” agency spokesman Brian McGovern said. A lawsuit filed on Nov. 6 by Francisco Javier Osorio against the city of Alamo claims that he reported allegations to TCEQ that the city of Alamo submitted false reports of chemical readings for water quality. Read the full story at

State, defense ask for continuance in RGC murder case

There won’t be back-to-back trials for the defendants accused of killing 17-year-old Rio Grande City resident Chayse Olivarez more than two years ago. Sebastian Torres, 18, was scheduled for trial Tuesday on charges of capital murder and tampering with physical evidence, but the parties agreed to postpone the trial. The agreed continuance follows the two-week trial of 19-year-old Jose Luis Garcia, who was found not guilty of murder despite a video-taped confession and crime scene walk-through. Read more at

Edinburg PD wrongful death lawsuit moved to federal court

The city of Edinburg is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit against its police department that was filed by the family of a man who died in the back of a patrol vehicle. The litigation, filed on behalf of Noreen Reyes, Brenda Marie Tamez and four minor children, accuses the police department of negligence for the death of Christopher Reyes, who died on June 18, 2017. The city of Edinburg filed its motion to dismiss on Nov. 4, the same day the litigation was moved from state District Court to the federal level, court records show. Read the full story at

Jury finds RGC teen not guilty of murder of Chayse Olivarez

EDINBURG — After nearly 13 hours of deliberations that began Thursday afternoon and ended in the wee hours of Friday morning, a jury of 10 women and two men found 19-year-old Jose Luis Garcia Jr. not guilty of shooting and killing Rio Grande City teen Chayse Olivarez more than two years ago. Visit for the full story.

Capital murder off the table in RGC teen’s case

One of the attorneys for 19-year-old Rio Grande City resident Jose Luis Garcia Jr. confirmed the judge presiding over his trial issued a direct verdict Wednesday afternoon on the charge of capital murder. Jose Luis Garcia Jr. is accused of paying then 16-year-old Phillip Severa $10,000 to lure 17-year-old Chayse Olivarez to an abandoned property in Roma where the man confessed to shooting the teen two to three times. Defense attorney O. Rene Flores confirmed visiting state District Judge Rogelio Valdez issued the direct verdict after both the state and defense closed their cases. Read the full story at

State rests in RGC teen murder trial

The mother of a 19-year-old man accused of luring a 17-year-old Rio Grande City teen to his death more than two years ago told a jury Tuesday that her son was protecting his family. “He took it because he was protecting his family,” Sandy Garcia, mother of Jose Luis Garcia Jr., said in response to a question from Starr County District Attorney Omar Escobar about why her son would have killed Chayse Olivarez. He son is charged with capital murder, tampering with evidence, including a human corpse. Sandy Garcia is a defense witness, who took the stand after the state rested Tuesday morning, made the stunning statement in the fifth day of testimony and evidence in her son’s trial. Read the full story at

Texas Ranger: Defendant’s, victim’s families are rival drug traffickers

The third day of testimony in the capital murder trial of a Rio Grande City teen revealed there may be much more to the allegations than anger over being robbed at gunpoint of $67 worth of marijuana and Xanax. On Thursday, under questioning from 19-year-old Jose Luis Garcia Jr.’s attorney, Ricardo L. Salinas, Texas Ranger Eric Lopez admitted that the defendant’s father, Jose Luis Garcia Sr., and the victim’s father, Casimiro Olivarez Sr., are rival drug traffickers in Starr County. The admission came after Lopez’s second full day on the stand in Jose Luis Garcia Jr.’s trial over accusations he paid then 17-year-old Phillip Severa $10,000 to lure 17-year-old Chayse Olivarez to an abandoned property in Roma where Jose Luis Garcia Jr. shot the man two to three times. Read the full story at