December 3, 2014 at 3:52 PM CST - Updated July 21 at 3:56 PM
A Denton County Jury has found
Jerry Joe Garza guilty of Capital Murder in the death of his ex-girlfriend Monica Partida.
He has been sentenced to mandatory life in prison without parole.
The defense rested their case nearly five weeks into the Jerry Joe Garza trial. Garza is accused of killing his ex girlfriend Monica Partida. Before the defense rested, a San Angelo detective testified that Partida had been involved in a 2008 San Angelo drug related murder case that has since gone cold.
Michael Gaeta is a San Angelo detective who initially was called to the scene of that drug related cold case on December 12th, 2008. Gaeta testified that a cousin related to Partidas former husband was killed inside a residence where Partida and her three children were living. Partida was cleared as a suspect following a polygraph screening in April of 2009.
The court then allowed the jury to leave for the day while a charge was written and built to be filed before tomorrow's proceedings. Prosecution and Defense spent a total of two and a half hours writing what would become the charge. Capital Murder is included in the charge.
If the jury finds Garza guilty of Capital Murder then it's an automatic life in prison. If the jury comes back with anything less, then it's possible sentencing phase would follow. Judge Fudge hinted that sentencing would continue in Wichita meaning the courts stay in Denton would be over while the trial would continue.
Jurors will be able to use any notes in their deliberations, however the court has instructed them that they can not share or site their own notes with other when deliberating.
Judge Fudge said he would make a decision as to whether or not Garza would need to be present when his charge and or his verdict is read in front of the jury. Garza's defense team said they would take the night to review the charge before it will be filed tomorrow morning.
The Jerry Joe Garza court ended early on Friday. The Jerry Joe Garza trial will reconvene Monday. Judge Fudge made the jury and court aware that defense witnesses and further video evidence needed to be gathered before they could move forward.
Today defense called up Detective Rick Cullar to the stand. Cullar said they never inquired about gathering video from businesses and homes around and near to the Rose Street location Garza was dropped off at before he allegedly killed his ex-girlfriend Monica Partida in February 2012.
The defense tried to show that detective Cullar and WFPD did not follow the proper sequential order when it came to crime scene procedures of taking video, photos and gathering of evidence. However, prosecutor Dobie Kosub was able to show that they did follow proper WFPD crime scene protocol when it came to documenting and gathering evidence from the crime scene.
Defense Attorney Michael Payne said it's possible he might call more or less than the two witnesses he plans to have testify before he rest his case. After the defense rests the jury will have to render a verdict of guilty or not guilty.
An official charge will be decided over the weekend, but Capital Murder will be included. If the jury finds Garza guilty of capital murder, then it would be an automatic life sentence.
Jack Carney, Newschannel6
Photos of the autopsy, more digital data and forensic evidence made up the bulk of Day 18 of the Jerry Joe Garza trial.
A Deputy Medical Examiner from Tarrant County testified that Monica Partida's body was covered with a total 18 sharp-force wounds, multiple bite marks, and yellow and purple bruises. Her body also showed clear signs of asphyxiation. The examiner ruled the death a homicide at the hands of one or multiple people. However, she was unable to determine whether it was wounds or asphyxiation that killed Partida first.
When jurors were shown photos of the body, some put their hands over their eyes and one stretched their coat over their face to block out the images. The examiner said there was also evidence of defensive wounds, meaning Partida was struggling to fend off her killer.
The Prosecution also brought in a Tarrant County Forensic Scientist, who specializes in tool mark classification. According to the expert's testimony, a knife recovered at the scene of the crime was the same make and brand as the one that created the wounds on Partida's body.
There was also Records Custodian for T-Mobile, who testified about calls made on a phone that the Prosecution says belonged to Garza. The expert said the phone was not registered to Jerry Joe Garza or Monica Partida. Instead, the phone's registered user was someone named Monica Garza, who lived somewhere on Fairfield in Wichita Falls.
According to the Records Custodian, the phone made a total of 329 calls to a number associated with Partida on February 1st & 2nd. The calls were made in a four-hour time span, which came out to one call every 42 seconds.
The day ended with testimony from a Texas Department of Public Safety Assurance Specialist, who testified that Garza's DNA was found on a plastic bag, a roll of duct tape and a detached zipper puller found at the crime scene. This does not prove that Garza killed Partida, but it does prove that his DNA was still present in Monica Partida's home, nearly two weeks after he moved out.
Jack Carney Newschannel 6
Today, a former Jolly Truck Stop waitress testified that she served Garza coffee on February 9th, just under an hour after he is alleged to have killed his ex-girlfriend Monica Partida. The waitress said she can't remember if Garza was with anyone. She only remembers that he was quiet. When questioned by the Defense, the waitress said she never saw any bloodstains on Garza's clothes.
There was also forensic evidence presented to the court. It involved the pair of Nike Shox found inside a shed at the Ennis apartment, where Garza was staying with family. An expert testified that the shoe prints found at the scene of the crime shared a pattern match with those recovered from Garza's Ennis residence. Because Nike Shox are publicly available, this does not prove that Garza was inside the home, only that he owned shoes with a similar pattern as those at the crime scene.
The court ended the day with testimony from a digital expert, who spoke about messages recovered from a phone Garza is said to have used.
These messages are paraphrased here:
"Hate you? Impossible. Do I want this relationship to end? No. I'll love you forever."
There were other messages that showed a different tone.
"I'm going up there for one thing on my mind. I'll be watching you, we will see how scared you are."
The court will reconvene tomorrow at 8 a.m. Judge Fudge has said he wants to work longer days in order to speed up the trial. That may mean 10- to 12-hour days for the remainder of this trial.
Jack Carney Newschannel 6
It's a new year, but problems persist with the Jerry Joe Garza Trial as day 16 was delayed. Garza was accused of killing his girlfriend Monica Partida at her Wichita Falls home in 2012.
A lone juror was the cause of Mondays early court exit. The juror was traveling outside of the area for the holidays. The juror was set to return in time for the trial to start back up again. However, after missing a connecting flight, the juror is now unable to get back to the area until Monday night.
The court was made aware of the delays yesterday when the juror realized they missed a connector flight.
Judge Fudge announced to the court that because the juror was not physically disabled, sick, or incompetent, they are not forced to use any of the two alternate jurors.
This is the third time that a jurors absence has caused the Garza trial to be delayed a whole day. Tomorrow the court will reconvene at 8:30 a.m. in the Denton County Ceremonial Courtroom.
The trial has been ongoing since December 1st, 2014. During that time Garza has decided to remain absent from the courtroom, locked in a Denton County Jail prison cell. Judge Fudge did ask the Wichita County Sheriffs that Garza be given the option daily to return to the trial, and that if he chooses to return, that he be given an additional option to change into civilian clothes provided by his defense team.
Jack Carney, Newschannel 6.
Jerry Joe Garza won't know his fate until 2015. Judge Fudge announced that the trial will take a two week break due to jury and witness schedule conflicts. Court will reconvene on Monday January 5th, 2015.
Today's action involved the prosecution questioning only three witnesses mostly on evidence found at both the crime scene and an Ennis, Texas residence Garza was staying at with family members.
Today's testimony seemed to be solely used for evidence admission purposes.
We now have a better understanding of Jerry Joe Garza's whereabouts during the night Monica Partida was killed. Today in court, Detective Rick Cullar identified Garza in video surveillance taken from a Stripes gas station the night of the murder. At 11:30 p.m., Garza is seen wiping his hands, sleeves and shoes, as well as using the bathroom twice. Garza is dressed in a black top and blue jeans, no longer wearing the Dallas Cowboys jacket he was seen wearing an hour earlier at the Jolly truck stop.
Here is what we know about Garza's movements the night of the murder: At 10:30 p.m., Garza is seen leaving the Jolly truck stop. A cab driver with Skylark Cab Company testified that she dropped Garza off on Rose Street between 10:55 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Today, the court saw Garza walk into a Stripes gas station at 11:30 p.m. The Prosecution argues that during the 30-35 minute gap, Garza walked a half-mile from Rose Street to Partida's house, broke through the window, stabbed and strangled Partida, then walked over a mile to the Stripes gas station. From the gas station, Garza is seen getting into a cab. He arrived at the Jolly truck stop just after midnight. He changed clothes and waited to take a Greyhound bus back to Dallas at noon.
The court also saw video of the first police interview with Garza. At the start of the interview, Garza denies being in Wichita Falls on February 8th & 9th. He also denies ever telling his cousin Leslie that he was going to come to Wichita Falls. Garza goes on to explain that he left Monica because of her drug use. He says that he last talked to Monica over the phone on the night of February 8th.
In the video, Detective Cullar asks Garza if he's the jealous type of boyfriend, then asks him if he ever sent Monica a Facebook message that said "I hate you and I will kill you in a heartbeat.” Police also ask Garza what should be done to the person, who committed the murder. Garza responds, "they should be locked up" and shrugs his shoulders. Detectives ask Garza if he killed Monica and he responds "no," again shrugging his shoulders.
The court saw another police interview with Garza on February 24th, two weeks after Partida's death. In the interview Garza becomes visually upset when police tell him they have video evidence that he was in Wichita Falls on the night Partida was killed. He looks at police and says, "I'm not going to argue with it. I did not do it,” then turns and looks away.
Pictures were presented today and testimony was given about an anonymous tip that aided police in their investigation of Monica Partida's murder.
WFPD Detective Charles Casillas testified that he first interviewed Garza on February 10th, one day after Partida was found dead in her Wichita Falls home. Detective Casillas said he took photos of Garza's right hand on that day. The photos show a cut on Garza's right thumb. Detective Tony Fox testified that a glove found at the scene of the crime had a blood stain inside where the thumb would be.
Casillas also testified that Garza initially denied being in Wichita Falls during the month of February.
There was also testimony regarding evidence found at the Ennis residence, where Garza was staying with relatives. Casillas testified that a pair of black Nike Shox tennis shoes was found inside an open shed in the backyard of the property. When he first picked up the shoes they appeared to be very clean and looked as though they had been worn only a handful of times. Police also found two black shirts and a cap, all matching the attire Garza was seen wearing on surveillance footage recorded inside various Wichita Falls businesses on February 8th and 9th.
There was also the mention of a tip that Wichita Falls police received on February 10th at 5 p.m. via Crime Stoppers. Detective John Laughlin said the Crime Stopper tip played a big role in the initial investigation of Partida's murder.
The caller said that Garza was dropped off on Britain Street between 10:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. on February 8th. However, a Sky Lark Cab Driver previously testified that she dropped off Garza on Rose Street at that time.
The caller also said that Garza was seen leaving Partida's house at 2:30 a.m. on February 9th. But video evidence shows that Garza was at the Jolly Truck stop shortly after midnight. Previous testimony from Partida's best friend Jason Jergenson indicated that he was high on meth and leaving Partida's house at that time.
This tip came in before detectives had any solid information about the murder. Somehow, someone knew that Jerry Joe Garza was in Wichita Falls and that a man later identified to be Jergenson left Partida's house at 2:30 a.m. on February 9th.
A mistrial was narrowly avoided today. Garza's defense called for a mistrial after learning that two of the detectives, who collected evidence at Garza's house, may have done so without the proper approval. Rick Cullar and Charles Casillas of the W.F.P.D Crimes Against Persons Investigations testified in a closed hearing. They said that they left certain details about about where the evidence was collected out of their reports.
Cullar obtained a warrant to search an Ennis, Texas duplex, where Garza had been staying with his family. The warrant was specific to search the property of duplex apartment B.
While on the stand, Cullar testified that Garza was arrested on Aggravated Assault charges and was not present when the home was searched. Once inside the home, Cullar said he found a black t-shirt, black thermal shirt, black cap, a Nike shoe box, and papers with Garza's handwriting.
While Cullar searched inside of the home Detective Casillas went into the backyard and noticed the door to the shed was open. Casillas testified that he went into the shed, pushed back "tires with rims and saw a pair of black Nike Shox shoes." Previous video evidence showed that Garza wore a pair of black tennis shoes on the night Monica Partida was killed.
Casillas went on to testify that he brought the shoes into the apartment to show Cullar. Cullar told Casillas that the warrant did not give them permission to search areas of the property outside of the home. Casillas said he and Cullar were given permission to search the shed only after the shoes had been removed from the shed. Both Casillas and Cullar admitted to omitting these details in their report of the search. The lead prosecutor and the District Attorney's Office had no knowledge of these details prior to today.
After these revelations were made, Garza's defense team called for a mistrial.
When news of a possible mistrial reached the DA's office, Maureen Shelton and John Gillespie drove two hours from Wichita County to counter the defense's motion. Gillespie argued that the seizure of the shoes was allowed because the warrant authorized the police to search any "place and premises" of the property. Judge Fudge agreed and overruled the Defense's call for a mistrial.
Before the court adjourned for the day, the Prosecution entered into evidence a “latent handwriting print” pulled from paper found at Garza's Ennis residence. The print is an impression left on back pages after you write on the top page. I was able to get a look at the print for myself sitting two rows behind the prosecution bench. The print doesn't prove who killed Partida, but it could possibly prove that the note found at scene of the crime was written by Garza.
Jack Carney, Newschannel 6
A note left at the crime scene was signed by a gang that may not exist. Today marks the start of the third week of the Jerry Joe Garza Trial. Garza is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend Monica Partida in her Wichita Falls home back in February 2012.
The defense still argues that the note is legitimate. However, the gang signature at the bottom is not. The note was signed by a group called the S Anglo boys, believed to be short for San Angelo boys. Partida hails from the San Angelo region.
Today a San Angelo police detective with San Angelo gang unit testified he had no knowledge of a gang or group that was called the S Anglo or San Angelo boys. In the five years that Travis Griffith has been part of the SA gang unit he has known of a total 38 gangs in San Angelo and none of them go by the signature found at the scene of the crime.
There was also video evidence showing security camera footage of Garza leaving the Jolly truck stop around 10:40 pm. A sky lark cabbie testified she brought Garza to a house on Rose Street 20 later the cabbie was told by Garza the property she dropped him at belonged to his mother and he was planning to sell it for her. The cabbie never saw Garza again after she left him at Rose Street.
There was also testimony from Monica's best friend,a former meth user Jason Jergenson. While on the stand Jergenson testified that he and Monica's cousin, Lieberman Aguilar, knew about the broken window at 2:30 a.m. after Partida did not answer the door. Jergenson said because they were so strung out on meth at the time the two decided not to call the cops and instead went to their separate homes and went to bed. Jergenson would also testify that Aguilar was selling meth at the time of Monica's death.
This is different than what Aguilar told the jury last week. Aguilar claimed that he was not at drug dealer and that he went to Monica's house by himself at 10:30 p.m. on February 8th and that he did not know about Monica's broken window until 8 a.m. February 9th the day Partida's body would be found.
Jergenson also mentioned that he had known of Garza to physically beat Monica as well as make verbal threats to Monica including an incident where Jergenson claimed Garza sent a message thorough Facebook telling Monica he would kill her. Just like the past two weeks Garza has again asked to remain inside his Denton county cell instead of showing his face in court.
Multiple members of Garza's family took the stand today, called up by the prosecution. They say Garza' attitude slightly changed and he was much more quiet after Monica's body was found. Garza's mother rather his stepmother who has raised him since he was six, testified that Jerry Joe Garza did mention that Garza and his girlfriend Monica had plans to move into an apartment in the Dallas area near the town of Ennis.
That's where Garza's family lived in 2012 and still currently lives. Garza's mother was showing a video of Jerry Joe inside a Jolly bus station on the morning of February 9, 2012,
The day Monica's body would be found. She identified that the man in the video was Jerry standing inside the bus station before he boarded the Dallas bound bus back from Wichita Falls.
It should be noted that two of the three Garza relatives who testified in this trial were pulled aside into private rooms before testifying and shown video of their previous interviews with detectives.
This is done to refresh memory since it has been 2 years since they last spoke about this.
All in all week two of the Jerry Joe Garza trial ends with a slightly better understanding of both Garza's and Partida's lifestyle in 2012.
Here's what we know Jerry Joe Garza had an anger problem and was seen by family and friends to be abusive towards Monica including physically pushing hitting and choking her.
We know Garza broke up with Monica over her drug habits we also know that Jerry Joe told a cousin, he would be coming to Wichita Falls after Monica was seen dancing and kissing with another man.
There's the fact he told his family he was going to pick up a check in Wichita Falls then he used an alias when he finally made it into town.
We know that on the morning Monica's body was found he had changed his clothes and was on his way back to his family near Dallas.
We heard testimony that Partida was still going to The Las Vegas Night Club a drug hot spot.
That her front door was barred by a wooden plank a customization found in drug houses.
That Monica was smoking with a male cousin, who has an extensive criminal history with meth including a delivery charge that was dropped in 2003.
Even though her female cousin who has no criminal history made the initial call about Partida's broken window.
It was the male cousin with the criminal history who first noticed it nearly an hour before the female cousin called police.
Police have testified that a note found at the scene indicates a drug deal did go down.
The prosecution continues to push that Garza killed his ex girlfriend Monica Partida.
Yet the defense argues that Monica death was not the result of Garza's rage but a result of her well documented drug use and association with other users and dealers.
Jack Carney Newschannel 6.
DAY 9: Testimony from the victim's family members and more video evidence took center stage during Day 9 of the Jerry Joe Garza trial.
A taxi driver with Star Cab Company testified that he drove Garza on the night Partida was murdered. The driver said he picked up Garza at a Wichita Falls gas station and drove him to a Walmart. According to the driver, Garza intended to buy a change of clothes, but once they arrived, he said he did not have enough money for clothes and a bus fare. Garza then asked to be driven to the Jolly bus station. Video surveillance footage shows Garza buying a ticket, then boarding a bus bound for Dallas on the day Partida's body was discovered.
Later in the day, the Prosecution questioned one of Partida's female cousins, who testified that she witnessed Garza physically and verbally abuse her cousin on multiple occasions. She said she saw Garza pushing, slapping and even choking Partida in public and at their home.
She also testified that she and Partida frequented a former Wichita Falls nightclub, which was known for dealing hard drugs. She admitted she witnessed her cousin smoking what appeared to be cocaine in a pipe. She also confirmed that Partida's front door was barred by a wooden plank, something frequently used in drug houses to prevent doors from being kicked down by police.
Partida's cousin said the last time she saw the victim was when she drove her to get food at McDonald's in the early morning hours of February 8th. According to her cousin, Partida said that she felt Jerry Joe Garza was watching her and that she was afraid.
The final witness called to the stand today was Partida's male cousin. He claimed that he witnessed his cousin being verbal and physically abused by Garza. After they broke up, he said Garza called him continuously throughout the day, demanding to speak to Partida, who was without a cell phone.
During cross-examination by the Defense, Partida's cousin confirmed that he smoked methamphetamine on occasion with his cousin, and that she frequented a nightclub known for drug trafficking. The Defense also asked the witness about his former convictions, including multiple charges of Possession and a Delivery charge that was later reduced to Possession.
The Defense also asked why the female cousin called 911, if the male cousin was the first to notice the broken window two hours before Partida's body was found in a pool of blood inside her Wichita Falls home.
The trial continues tomorrow and is expected to go past the Christmas holidays.
Jack Carney, Newschannel 6
The Prosecution called multiple witnesses to the stand today, including an I.D. expert and two W.F.P.D. officers, who were among the first to arrive on scene. Owners of both the Dallas and Jolly bus stops were also called. The pair was summoned to affirm that video surveillance footage from their businesses was unaltered. Footage, dated February 8th and 9th, show that Garza was at both bus stations.
The majority of today's proceedings centered around that last two witnesses: Garza's uncle and a man named Tommy Tanner.
While under oath, Garza's uncle testified that Jerry Joe asked for a ride to a Dallas bus station and said he was heading to Wichita Falls to pick up a check from his previous job as a club bouncer. The uncle confirmed that Garza carried no baggage when boarding the bus on night of February 8, 2012. Garza's uncle said Jerry Joe was wearing different clothes when he picked him up from the bus station the following day. The Prosecution then showed surveillance footage from the Jolly bus station that showed Garza wore different clothes on February 8th and 9th.
The second major witness, Tommy Tanner, rode a bus that was bound for Wichita Falls on February 8th. Tanner testified that he had a conversation with Garza, who said he needed help hailing a cab after they arrived at the Jolly bus stop. While Tanner and Garza both waited for cabs, Tanner testified that Garza, who said his name was Robert, mentioned that he was in town to help with family matters.
For the third day in a row, Garza has chosen to remain in his Denton County cell and out of the court room.
Jack Carney Newschannel 6
The Defense suggested today that evidence admitted into court could have been cross-contaminated. Former Wichita Falls Police Department Crime Scene Tech Samantha Smith was again the sole witness to testify. Smith spent a total of 14 total hours testifying, over the past two days, on her processing of the crime scene.
Today, Smith said she arrived at the crime scene nearly three hours after the police first responded. She also talked about how the detectives unsuccessfully removed floor tiles from the kitchen that contained bloody footprints. Smith confirmed that detectives could have entered the home before she arrived, leaving open the possibility that some of the bloody footprints belonged to them. Smith said she did not photograph the soles of the police officers' shoes.
When questioned by the Defense, Smith said she never noticed whether detectives, who handled evidence, changed gloves before placing placards around the bloody crime scene. Garza's defense team then suggested that cross-contamination of evidence occurred.
During redirect examination, the Prosecution confirmed with Smith that she herself changed gloves frequently and that changing gloves frequently was something all officers are assumed to do.
For the second day in a row, a note was presented that the Defense claims proves a drug deal went down. Smith repeated that she was not able to comment on the contents of the note, only that it was found at the scene of the crime.
State Prosecutors called only one witness to the stand, but admitted into evidence several hundred items from the crime scene.
Samantha Smith is a former Wichita Falls Crime Scene Technician, who helped document the crime scene after Monica Partida was found dead in her Wichita Falls home in February 2012..
At 9 a.m. Garza's attorney Mike Payne requested that Garza be allowed to stay inside his Denton County cell, rather than being transported to the Denton County Courthouse holding cell during the proceedings. Judge Fudge said he would allow Garza the right to stay in his cell so long as it does not interfere or delay any of the proceedings.
State prosecutor Dobie Kosub spent over six hours questioning Smith and admitting crime scene evidence into the court. Smith verified that hundreds of photos, videos, bloody evidence, foot and fingerprints, drug paraphernalia and other items of significance were entered into the court correctly. She also confirmed that they were collected at the scene of Partida's murder.
Today's testimony was strictly for verification purposes as the Prosecution makes its case.
The defense maintains that Garza was in no way involved in the murder and that Partida is the victim of a drug deal gone bad. A letter found at the scene of the crime indicated a drug deal did go down. However, today's witness was not able to comment on the legitimacy of the contents of the letter. Smith was only able to verify that a note was recovered at the scene of the crime.
After two days of delays, the trial of Jerry Joe Garza finally began at 9 am inside the Denton County Court house.
In their opening statements, the Prosecution said that Garza had no reason to be in Wichita Falls on the night Monica was murdered. State Prosecutor Dobie Kosub argued that Garza lied to his family in order to get money for a bus ticket to the Jolly Bus Station. He pointed out Garza used a fake name when he boarded the bus and left the bus station in a cab that dropped him off only blocks from Partida's house.
The State said that video evidence would be presented later that would show that Garza had changed clothes before he entered a convenience store. At the store, he was caught on camera using napkins to wipe his hands and shoes, as well as the bathroom he used. He did this before heading back to Dallas the same night. The State claimed that Garza did all of this in 45 minutes to an hour.
Garza's defense attorney acknowledged that Garza had lied about his whereabouts on the night of Monica's murder and had used an alias to board the bus. However, the Defense argued that the reason for Garza's lies was not because he was involved in Partida's death, but because he was a known drug dealer. They also pointed to a note that was left at the scene of the crime that indicated Monica's death was the result of a drug deal gone bad. They said that Garza was not a part of that drug deal.
The Prosecution's first witness was Leslie Calderon, Garza's cousin, who had also worked with him at Las Vegas Night Club. She said she called Garza the Sunday before Partida's death and mentioned that Monica was seen dancing and kissing other men. After hearing this, Calderon said that Garza indicated he would be in the Wichita Falls area that Wednesday.
The Prosecution presented a portion of a taped interview that they conducted with Calderon following Partida's death. In the video, Calderon receives a call from Garza. When Calderon puts the phone on speaker, police begin questioning Garza. During the taped interview, Garza says he had no involvement with Partida's death and that he had not been to Wichita Falls in nearly two weeks. When the Defense cross-examined Calderon, they pointed to her previous criminal history and drug use in an effort to discredit her testimony.
The Prosecution then called Wichita Falls Police Officer Mark Schwartz to the stand. Schwartz was one the first officers to arrive at the crime scene. Schwartz noticed that a window had been broken from the outside. When Schwartz entered the kitchen, he saw Monica's body in a pool of her own blood on the floor. She had been stabbed 13 times. Schwartz mentioned that when he unlocked the doors, he found wooden locks on them. During the Defense's cross-examination, they got Schwartz to explain that wooden locks are sometimes used in drug houses to slow down police officers when they enter the residence, thus giving more time for users or dealers to get rid of anything illicit.
After Schwartz's questioning, the court adjourned for the weekend. The trial will resume Monday at 9 a.m.
Newschannel 6 will be back in the Denton County Courthouse, giving you the latest updates on the trial's proceedings.
A lone juror's illness has caused yet another delay in the Jerry Joe Garza trial. The court room doors opened at 8:15 a.m. with both prosecution and defense eager to begin opening statements. Prosecution was set to begin testimony and had witnesses present and ready outside the courtroom to take the stand. Before any of that could begin Judge Fudge made both defense and prosecution aware that the ill fallen juror from yesterday was able to move and walk, but was still recovering.
After hearing this both prosecution and defense made the judge aware they were against using an alternate juror so early for a trial that could last well beyond the Christmas holiday. After consulting the Texas Criminal Code, the judge explained the court would not be forced to use one of the two alternates because the juror in question was ill, not physically impaired or disabled.
Before the court adjourned and criminal code books were closed, Garza's defense attorney Mike Payne pointed out to Judge Fudge the law does allow for Garza to remain absent for the rest of the trial. The judge reviewed the writing and, as opposed to yesterday, confirmed that Garza would not have make a plea while physically present in front of the jury before absence could be granted.
DAY 3: Another delay in the Jerry Joe Garza trial. Judge Fudge announced at 9:15 a.m. that one of the main jurors was out with food poisoning. The court adjourned at 9:45 a.m.
Jerry Joe Garza then told his defense that he would like to remain absent from the court for the remainder of the trial. Judge Fudge objected the request, saying Garza would have to be present in front of the jury and enter his plea before any absence would be granted.
I was able to get an off-camera interview with two of Garza's relatives.
Garza's half-brother told me he believes that Garza is guilty of the crime. He says Garza initially asked him to drive to Wichita Falls on the night of the murder, but he declined and gave Garza $10 for a bus fare. He did not see his brother again, until he returned to Wichita Falls from Dallas. Once Garza returned, his brother says, he was quiet and no longer socialized with friends or family. He says Garza went into a severe depression and has not been the same since.
Garza's cousin told me it had been a long time since she'd spoken with him, but she too believes that he is guilty.
Coming up tomorrow: The Prosecution and Defense will make their opening statements.
Newschannel 6 Reporter Jack Carney will give day-by-day updates as the trial of Jerry Joe Garza for the murder of his ex-girlfriend continues.
Jerry Joe Garza entered the courtroom in a maroon red prison jumper with a straight look on his face, clean shaven, and a thin buzzed hair cut. Garza remained quiet and only spoke out twice, once to his defense and the other to Judge Barney Fudge.
Jerry Joe Garza's defense team made multiple attempts to get him to change into civilian clothing, but he refused.
Judge Barney Fudge then requested that Garza to stand to make his plea. After remaining quiet and motionless for several seconds, Garza stood and looked toward Fudge, saying "I'm not guilty."
Judge Fudge then advised the court that Garza was wearing an electronic belt that could be triggered by any of the multiple Wichita County Sheriff's Deputies standing around him, if he plans to cause any trouble in the courtroom.
Questioning of potential jurors was set to begin at 10 a.m. However, one of the jurors failed to appear at the appointed time. The judge ordered the juror to be called and a voicemail was left for them, explaining that their appearance in court was mandatory.
By 11 a.m., a "writ," or formal written request, was made to physically locate the missing juror. The missing juror was found to be at a doctor's office, for an ear infection. Jerry Joe Garza was asked to go into a holding cell, until Judge Fudge made a decision about whether to excuse the missing juror. Shortly after Garza left the courtroom, Fudge declared the court would break until 1 p.m.
After 1 p.m., all 72 potential jurors entered the courtroom for questioning.
The Prosecution went first, asking potential jurors about their definitions of “beyond reasonable doubt” and “capital murder.”
The Defense countered with questions about being “innocent until proven guilty” and the “right to remain silent.”
Questioning of potential jurors lasted for nearly five hours.
Two hours after questioning ended, a 14-person jury was selected: 12 permanent jurors and 2 back-up jurors. The jury is made up of 7 men and 7 women.
The trial will resume at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday.
Day 1 Of the Jerry Joe Garza Murder Trial: The murder trial of Jerry Joe Garza, the Texoma man charged with killing his ex-girlfriend, Monica Partida, is underway.
Garza's trial received so much media attention that it had to be moved to Denton County.
Today began with jury selection. Seventy-two Denton County residents were selected as potential jurors. The Defense and the State's Prosecution worked together to build a 17-page, 125-answer questionnaire, which took between thirty minutes to two hours to complete.
Jerry Joe Garza's defense team is made up of two attorneys: Mike Payne and Bruce Harris. The State will be represented by Dobie Kosub, Kyle Lessor, another attorney and an investigator. Both will review the potential jurors' responses to questionnaire in order to help select a jury. In total, they will have to review nearly 1,224 pages and 9,000 answers.
Judge Barney Fudge has instructed that the jurors return to the courtroom at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning for further questioning by both the defense and prosecution.
Newschannel 6 Reporter Jack Carney will give day-by-day updates as the trial continues.
For previous stories covering this case, click the links below: