Alton man pleads not guilty in fatal smuggling crash

On what would have been Cesar Martinez Galarza’s 76th birthday, the man accused of causing his death appeared in court. Fernando Miranda Rodriguez, standing next to his attorney Abiel Flores, pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning to charges related to a May 6 crash in La Joya that left Martinez dead and another man seriously injured. Rodriguez, 19, faces several charges, including one count of murder, one count of accident involving death, one count of evading arrest/detention causing death, and evading arrest with serious bodily injury, and three counts of smuggling of persons, records show. The state contends that just before 2 p.m. on May 6, in La Joya, Rodriguez, who was allegedly attempting to transport three men suspected of being in the country illegally, tried to flee from a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper who attempted to conduct a traffic stop on Rodriguez’s 2007 Chevrolet Impala. Read the full story at

New Edcouch attorney requests dismissal of residency-related appeal

The former Edcouch city attorney appealed a judge’s order issued last month that allowed the alderman to assume office despite an allegation he lives in Elsa. The current city attorney, however, filed documentation Friday requesting the appeal filed by his predecessor be dismissed.

Vanguard receives grant for school climate program

Vanguard Academy is taking a “proactive” approach to create an ideal learning environment for students. Vanguard Academy has campuses in Pharr, Edinburg and Alamo. The U.S. Department of Education awarded $3.7 million to Vanguard Academy to implement the School Climate Transformation Grant. This grant will give the open-enrollment charter over $700,000 each year for five years. Read the full story at

GOP and Democrats trade blame for shutdown, no deal in sight

JULIET LINDERMAN, LISA MASCARO and ZEKE MILLER | THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON — The partial government shutdown will almost certainly be handed off to a...

Mayoral candidates square off in Weslaco

WESLACO — Residents here got to see first-hand where two mayoral candidates stand on issues of economic prosperity, quality of life and government accountability and accessibility. Mayor David Suarez, who is seeking re-election, and challenger Alfredo “Duff” Castañeda sat for a scripted candidate forum hosted by the Weslaco Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday night. The forum, which was held at the Weslaco Business, Visitor and Event Center, was sparsely attended. Each candidate was allowed two minutes to provide opening statements before taking turns answering a list of prepared questions from moderate John Greider, of The Monitor’s parent company, AIM Media Texas. Read more at the

AUDIO: Valley lawmakers on the 86th legislative session

The 86th Legislature began Jan. 8 and will end May 27. Here is information from the legislators representing the Rio Grande Valley. District 20 Sen....

Bond conditions prevent Zamora’s release in healthcare fraud case

More than 60 days after a federal judge granted her release, Meisy Zamora remains in custody after facing difficulty in meeting the conditions of her release. Zamora is facing charges of healthcare fraud for her alleged participation in a scheme to defraud health insurers by misdiagnosing and over-treating patients. Her husband, Dr. Jorge Zamora-Quezada, and two of their employees, were also charged for their alleged role in the scheme. Zamora, who earned a medical degree in Mexico, worked in her husband’s clinic and is accused of pressuring employees to keep the clinic filled with patients and to alter medical records. Read the full story at

Interim Pharr police chief promoted to permanent position

PHARR — The city swore in a new police chief during Monday’s city commission meeting, naming the interim chief to the permanent position. Jose A....

Starr Co. outsources capital murder cases

Burdened by the cost of a recent capital murder case, Starr County will be partnering with Lubbock County which will represent Starr County’s indigent defendants in capital murder cases. For the defense of Jesus Angel Rebollar, who was convicted on two counts of capital murder earlier this month, the county spent an estimated $200,000 — about $50,000 in attorney’s fees and $150,000 that the county had to deposit in an escrow account. “Capital murders are very expensive,” Starr County Judge Eloy Vera said during Commissioners Court on Tuesday, pointing out the county had two other capital murder cases that are expected to go to trial. Read the full story at

The Latest: President Donald Trump’s McAllen visit

The latest on the president's visit to the Rio Grande Valley amid a partial government shutdown over a fight for funding of a border...