by SEAN KIMMONS
One of the four murder suspects in the killing of a Lockhart man, all of whom authorities say are linked to the Mexican Mafia, was denied a bond reduction during a hearing on Thursday.
Nemesio Garcia Jr., of San Marcos, remains in jail on a $750,000 bond in connection to the Aug. 31 murder of Walter Capello, 35, who was stabbed at least 63 times in an undisclosed location in Hays County, officials say.
A defense attorney told 207th State District Judge Jack Robison that Garcia, 31, was only a passenger in a pickup truck, where police discovered Capello’s badly mutilated body wrapped in plastic during a traffic stop in New Braunfels on Sept. 1.
“We respect the ruling,” attorney Chevo Pastrano, who represents Garcia, said Friday. “We were just trying to get the judge to reduce his bond to get him out of jail, but it was denied.”
Garcia was indicted in October along with Johnny Gilbert Soliz Jr., 45, of San Marcos; Eloy Davila Jr., 52, of Wimberley; and Paul Tovar, 42, of San Marcos, who all remain in custody on murder charges.
In the hearing, Pastrano revealed evidence that he said proved that Garcia was at a bar drinking with friends on the night of the murder. Soliz, the driver of the truck, has claimed that he killed Capello in self-defense and that Garcia was innocent.
“We’ve come to a point where we feel that Garcia is the least culpable,” Pastrano said. “We believe that he’s not involved.”
According to court documents that have since been sealed, the Austin Police Department Gang Unit received a tip from an informant on Sept. 1 that gang members from the San Marcos area were planning to dispose the body of a man killed a day prior.
San Marcos and Austin police set up surveillance on the crew and alerted New Braunfels police as Soliz’s white pickup truck neared their jurisdiction, traveling southbound on Interstate 35. At about 8:45 p.m., New Braunfels police pulled over the truck, found Capello’s torso in the bed, and arrested Soliz and Garcia.
Later that same night, law enforcement officials pulled over Davila’s and Tovar’s vehicles as they left Davila’s residence in the Garza Mobile Home Park near Wimberley. The officials found shovels and other dirt working tools in the back of Tovar’s truck and a more thorough search found a rubber glove with what appeared to be a blood stain.
The evidence was seized but the suspects were not detained by officers. Davilla was arrested by Hays County officials on Sept. 3 and Tovar on Sept. 11.
Pastrano believes that all four suspects will be heading to jury trials, for which dates have not been set. For Garcia’s case, he says he will continue to search for new evidence to clear his client.
“We’re still in the discovery process, trying to get new evidence to look at,” he said. “We’ll be evaluating the case.”
All four suspects have criminal records and face enhanced sentences if convicted of the first-degree felony, typically punishable by five to 99 years in prison.
Under Texas law, an offender with one felony conviction receives a minimum 15 year sentence for a subsequent first-degree felony conviction; two or more previous felony convictions results in an automatic 25 year minimum.
The Mexican Mafia, often called La EME, was established in Texas in 1984 by Heriberto “Herbie” Huerta who was serving three life sentences in a Huntsville prison for murder conspiracy and racketeering.
The Texas organization is not officially tied to the gang that has operated under the same name in California for more than 50 years, according to insideprison.com. The website estimates that the gang has 30,000 members across the United States.
SEAN KIMMONS is a senior reporter at the Hays Free Press where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Free Press and the San Marcos Mercury.Email | Print