Tentative Trial Date Set in Feit Case
By Lorenzo Zazueta-Castro
February 13, 2017
A judge set a tentative trial date for a former priest accused of killing a McAllen woman more than 50 years ago.
After a brief hearing Monday morning, both sides in the capital murder case of John Bernard Feit agreed to a late April trial date.
District Judge Luis Singleterry set a pretrial date for April 20, and a subsequent trial date of April 24 after Hidalgo County Assistant District Attorney Michael Garza asked the court to set a date, as most evidence has been turned over to the defense.
The 83-year-old man is accused of killing Irene Garza, a McAllen schoolteacher and beauty queen in the 60s when he worked as a priest in the Valley.
The 25-year-old woman was last seen April 16, 1960, going to confession at the Sacred Heart church in McAllen; authorities found her lifeless body five days later in a canal.
During the initial investigation, officers linked Feit to Garzaís death after finding evidence and placing him at the church the night she disappeared. Feit, however, was never charged in the case at the time and he was eventually moved out of state by the church, documents show.
Garza said pending the testing of some last pieces of evidence, specifically DNA evidence tied to Garza from a vehicle used to transport the woman, the state was ready to proceed.
Feitís attorney, O. Rene Flores, said he agreed with the court setting a trial date pending the results of that evidence.
The brief hearing Monday comes two weeks after the last hearing in which both attorneys declared that most, if not all, evidence had been handed over and reviewed.
Flores has yet to ask for the trialís venue to be changed, something he has hinted he would do during the nearly 12 months since he began representing Feit in early March of last year.
That request is still expected, but both the state and Flores have declined to comment in respect to the location of the trial.
Flores, when he took over as Feitís attorney, had asked the court to allow Feit to be released on bond with the condition that he only be released to his family, but since has not broached the subject.
Feit has remained in the Hidalgo County jail with 24-hour medical supervision since being extradited from Phoenix in early March of last year.