The third day of testimony in the capital murder trial of a Rio Grande City teen revealed there may be much more to the allegations than anger over being robbed at gunpoint of $67 worth of marijuana and Xanax.
On Thursday, under questioning from 19-year-old Jose Luis Garcia Jr.’s attorney, Ricardo L. Salinas, Texas Ranger Eric Lopez admitted that the defendant’s father, Jose Luis Garcia Sr., and the victim’s father, Casimiro Olivarez Sr., are rival drug traffickers in Starr County.
The admission came after Lopez’s second full day on the stand in Jose Luis Garcia Jr.’s trial over accusations he paid then 17-year-old Phillip Severa $10,000 to lure 17-year-old Chayse Olivarez to an abandoned property in Roma where Jose Luis Garcia Jr. shot the man two to three times.
Evidence and testimony has shown that Chayse Olivarez’s body was burned and found dismembered in three trash bags on the property.
On Wednesday, Lopez said on the stand that Jose Luis Garcia Jr. murdered Chayse Olivarez because the 17-year-old robbed him at gunpoint earlier that year.
Salinas, who is representing Jose Luis Garcia Jr. along with O. Rene Flores, aggressively questioned Lopez on Thursday, asking the Ranger whether he had ever searched for a police report detailing Chayse Olivarez’s alleged robbery of Jose Luis Garcia Jr.
The defense attorney also asked whether Lopez went to Rio Grande City High School to ask students there whether they knew anything about a feud between the two teens.
Lopez said he had not.
Salinas also questioned Lopez whether he ever considered why Jose Luis Garcia Jr. would go from playing varsity football and getting good grades to plotting to murder Chayse Olivarez.
In a video walk-through of the crime scene, Jose Luis Garcia Jr. told Lopez he began planning the killing four days prior to shooting Chayse Olivarez, which would have been Jose Luis Garcia Jr.’s 17th birthday.
“What happened on your birthday that caused you to put all this together,” Salinas said, proposing questions Lopez could have asked Jose Luis Garcia Jr. “Did you get threatened?”
Lopez did not ask these questions, despite Jose Luis Garcia Jr. repeatedly saying during the interview that he thought he would be in danger if word got out authorities were looking at him.
There seemed to be truth to that.
When Lopez took him to the crime scene, he had to pull over and hide Jose Luis Garcia Jr. because Chayse Olivarez’s father, Casimiro Olivarez Sr., had somehow learned that his son’s body was at that abandoned property in Roma and had gone to the scene.
Lopez went so far as to transfer Jose Luis Garcia Jr. from a marked patrol unit to an unmarked patrol unit where the teen was hidden behind coats.
Salinas also aggressively questioned whether Lopez knew if Chayse Olivarez had threatened Jose Luis Garcia Jr. or his family, to which Lopez said he did not.
Jose Luis Garcia Sr. has attended every day of his son’s trial while Casimiro Olivarez Sr. is currently locked up in a federal facility on charges of being a felon in possession of more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
He was arrested in Live Oak County.
Testimony also revealed that someone had shot Casimiro Olivarez seven times a few months after his son’s murder.