Victim in weekend murder case was bound, shot in face

Julio Cesar Deleon, right, and Edna Rivera listen to a charge of capital murder, in the death of Fernando Garza, during their arraignment at the Hidalgo county detention center Monday, July 29, 2019, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

Probable cause affidavits for the arrests of two people charged in the death of a 23-year-old man, whose body was found in an orchard last Saturday, reveal a witness told investigators another man was involved in the murder.

The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office arrested 25-year-old Julio Cesar Deleon, of Peñitas, and 28-year-old Mission resident Edna Rivera on charges of capital murder the same day deputies found Fernando Garza Jr. dead with a gunshot wound to the face in an orchard between Mile 11 and Mile 12 on Iowa Road.

The probable cause affidavits obtained by The Monitor state a man named Luis Domingo Dominguez told investigators that Deleon, also known as Diamond, and Alfredo Huerta, also known as Freddy, kidnapped and bound him and Garza at gunpoint from Rivera’s house at 8608 Marivel Ortiz St.

“Edna knew what was going to happen and is the one who bound their wrists together with tape,” the affidavits read. “(Deleon) and (Huerta) took them to an orchard where (Deleon) shot and killed Fernando.”

Dominguez told investigators that Deleon and Huerta took him to a separate location where the vehicle was left behind.

The probable cause affidavit doesn’t include any investigative stories as to whether authorities believed Dominguez, who hasn’t been arrested, or how he escaped from the vehicle where he said he was bound after witnessing a murder.

Sgt. Francisco Medrano, public information officer for the sheriff’s office, did not answer a phone call or respond to an email seeking comment by deadline. Medrano’s voicemail was full and The Monitor was unable to leave a message.

The probable cause affidavit also describes how deputies spoke with the victim’s father, Fernando Garza Sr., who told investigators that while looking for his son he came across two of his son’s friends, Huerta and Dominguez.

“(Huerta) told him that he, (Dominguez) and Fernando had been kidnapped,” the affidavit read. “(Huerta) stated that (Deleon) had shot and killed Fernando in an orchard and that he and (Dominguez) managed to escape.”

Rivera provided a voluntary statement to investigators and admitted she helped Deleon and Huerta bind the hands of Garza and another man she only knew as “Gordo,” according to the affidavits.

On Friday, the day before Garza’s body was found, deputies responded to a call of a burned vehicle they later identified as belonging to Garza, who drove a maroon 2006 Dodge Durango.

The investigation began after Garza’s mother, Blanca Yadira Herrera, called authorities because she had not been able to locate her son since June 23.

She went to the house on Marivel Ortiz Street because her son had been staying there.

“She learned a female later identified as Edna Rivera that Fernando had gotten into an argument with a male nicknamed Diamond and that Diamond had pulled a gun out,” according to the affidavits.

On Saturday, Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra said the investigation is open and fluid.

“We’re working to develop a motive to this case,” Guerra said previously.

Rivera and Deleon are also facing multiple drug charges, including possession of a controlled substance more than 4 grams, but fewer than 200 grams; possession of a controlled substance more than 3 grams, but fewer than 28 grams; and possession of marijuana more than 5 pounds, but fewer than 50 pounds.

Several probable cause affidavits detail how investigators found marijuana, methamphetamine and Xanax inside two black duffle bags inside the home at 8608 Marivel Ortiz St.

Rivera is also charged with aggravated kidnapping while Deleon faces charges of failure to identify and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon.

Investigators found a handgun inside the home at 8608 Marivel Ortiz St., according to the affidavit.

Court records show Deleon has a lengthy criminal history with numerous stints in Hidalgo County jail on convictions for burglary of vehicles and burglary of a habitation.

He was also on probation for possession of a controlled substance and assault causing bodily injury of a family member, court records show.

A search of court records for Rivera did not return any results.

Both are being held without bond on the capital murder charge.

mreagan@themonitor.com