Judge Sets Media Protocol for Feit Trial
By Molly Smith
November 28, 2017
|John Feit walks out of the 92nd District Court during a change of venue hearing Wednesday, May 24, 2017, in Edinburg.|
The judge presiding over the John Feit trial, which is arguably the highest profile case in Hidalgo County history, spent the final pretrial hearing leading up to the first day in court briefing members of the media on protocol.
Given local and national media interest in the case, and in an effort to minimize courtroom distractions, 92nd state District Judge Luis Singleterry designated a single pool photographer and pool videographer.
The Monitor will be providing still photography to all media and CBS’ “48 Hours” will be in charge of video. The crime and justice series previously ran a segment on the Irene Garza cold case in 2014.
Now 85 years old, Feit is accused of murdering Garza, a then 25-year-old schoolteacher, in April 1960 after she went to confession at McAllen’s Sacred Heart Church. He was a visiting priest at the church at that time.
Singleterry ordered that live streaming the trial — both video and audio — would not be permitted. Reporters, however, will be allowed to take to social media during the trial, which the judge said could take approximately 10 business days.
Final jury selection takes place Tuesday and Wednesday and, per Singleterry's orders, media is not permitted in the courtroom during that time.
According to the court docket, Feit was present at Monday’s pre-trial hearing, though media was not present for this portion.
The docket also notes that the judge took all pending motions under advisement and will make a ruling before the trial starts. These include motions submitted by the defense to exclude the autopsy report and related testimony as well as to suppress statements Feit made to investigators in February 2016 after his arrest.
The defense has also submitted a motion to exclude Dale Tacheny’s “privileged deposition” testimony. Tacheny — who is in his late 80s — is a former monk who says Feit admitted the crime to him.
All these motions were sealed shortly after they were submitted and thus are not accessible to the public.
Opening statements are expected to begin Thursday barring any delays.