Former Priest Appears in Court Again; Plans in Works for Inspection of Church Grounds
By Lorenzo Zazueta-castro
June 6, 2016
A former priest accused of murder is set to revisit at least one of the locations the state says he held his victim in after attorneys met in court Monday.
John Bernard Feit was all smiles moments before a scheduled hearing Monday inside the 92nd state District Court.
The 83-year-old former priest is accused in the April 1960 death of Irene Garza, a schoolteacher and beauty queen who was last seen going to confession at McAllen’s Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Her body was found five days later after it was dumped in a canal.
During the brief status hearing, Feit’s attorneys, O. Rene Flores and Ricardo Flores, and the state’s attorneys Michael Garza and Krsytine Ramon, said they are closer to a walk-through date to inspect one of the alleged crime scenes after speaking to church officials in San Juan.
“We have scheduled a meeting to inspect the physical evidence but due to counsel’s schedule and my schedule we have been unable to coordinate that; we’ll get that done with McAllen (police),” Garza said. “An issue arose this morning concerning the order that was entered regarding the inspection of the basilica. The order was brought but it needed to be, and we were able to, narrow that order down to a specific location. Counsel for the basilica is writing a letter of protocol, which will give us a specified time, date, which people will be present, and where exactly we will be directing them.”
All parties are expected to inspect the grounds of Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle, more specifically the building where visiting priests stayed while they were working at the church and where it is alleged, at least in part, that Feit held Garza before dumping her body into a canal.
The question of Feit’s bond, and the subsequent reduction that would allow him to be released into the custody of family members in Hidalgo County, did not come up during the less-than-five minute status hearing but is expected to be discussed up when the two sides meet in about a month.
Feit is currently in custody at the Hidalgo County Jail on a $750,000 bond. He has 24-hour medical care inside the jail.
Judge Luis Singleterry did not set a date for the next status hearing but one is expected to be set by the end of the week.