The Latest: Ex-priest gets life in prison for the 1960 killing

EDINBURG, Texas – The Latest news about the murder trial of an ex-priest in the 1960s and the death of a Texas woman (all times are local):

5:35 pm

A jury convicted a former priest to life in prison for the strangulation death of a female parishioner for 57 years ago.

The Hidalgo County jury in South Texas deliberated slightly more than four hours Friday before the maximum punishment for murder against the 85-year-old John Bernard Feit (FYTE). The same jury found him guilty Thursday night for the murder of the 25-year-old teacher and former beauty queen Irene Garza in April 1960.

Fact was a priest of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas, when he first came under suspicion in Garza’s death. He said that he had heard Garza’s confession in the church rectory in place of the confessional, but denied killing the woman.

Prosecutors had asked for a 57-year-old prison sentence of one year for each year a Fact is free after Garza’s death.


12:10 pm

Plaintiffs are asking a Texas jury to send a former priest convicted of murder to prison for 57 years, reflecting how long he has walked free since the killing in 1960.

The punishment phase of the trial for the 85-year-old John Bernard Feit (FYTE) began Friday, a day after he was found guilty for the death of a schoolteacher Irene Garza in McAllen, Texas.

The prosecution and the defense of each is a brief explanation of the Hidalgo County jury before the panel began deliberating.

Prosecutor Michael Garza, who is not related to the victim, asked the jury not to the elderly and the weak Fact as it is now. Garza says that she needs to imagine him as a 28-year-old man who is in a state of submission and strangling the woman.

Fact came under suspicion early on. He told the police that he heard Garza’s confession in the church rectory, place in the confessional, but denied he had killed her.


6:30 pm

A former priest, convicted for the murder of a female parishioner over 57 years ago, but now the testimony on which punishment he should get.

A South Texas jury is hearing testimony Friday, a day after finding the 85-year-old John Bernard Feit (FYTE) guilty of murder in the April 1960 strangulation death of a schoolteacher Irene Garza, a 25-year-old former beauty queen.

Fact was a 28-year-old priest at a McAllen, Texas, the Catholic church at the time of Garza’s death. The evidence indicates that the South Texas authorities tried to look away from suspicions about the priest in 1960 for the protection of the church. Years of pressure by Garza’s family is asked a newly elected prosecutor to reopen the case.

The Hidalgo County jury that convicted Fact can now sentence him to life in prison.

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