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Jurors learn more details about murder victim's final hours

By Gheni_Platenburg
Sept. 15, 2010 at 4:15 a.m.

Francisco Barron

Jurors learned more details about a Victoria man's last hours alive on day two of the Garcia murder trial.

Victoria residents David Francisco Barron, 26, and Marcus "Pelon" Pena, 24, are charged with murder in the 2009 death of Jason "Big J" Garcia, 24.

The two also face charges of engagement in organized criminal activity and capital murder.

Garcia was found dead and beaten in the parking lot of Magic Industries, located near the 2300 block of South Laurent Street on Aug. 23, 2009.

Because of the ties this case has to the notorious Mexican Mafia street gang, the Victoria County District Attorney's Office has asked The Victoria Advocate not to use some testifiers' real names for their protection.

Barron's now ex-girlfriend told jurors that Barron, who is represented by attorney Brent Dornburg, and Pena, who is represented by attorney Jim Beeler, had involved her and Pena's wife in discovering Garcia's body.

After venturing to several area locations that night, the two men, along with Rolando Pena Jr., 25, and Antonio Castillo Jr., left their female companions behind and proceeded to Magic Industries with Garcia, said the ex-girlfriend.

While they were at Magic Industries, District Attorney Steve Tyler said Garcia was kicked and beaten to death by Barron and Pena for refusing to jump in earlier at Club Caliente to help fight Andy "Lunatic" Higdon, who was a friend of Garcia's.

After nearly an hour wait at Marcus Pena's wife's house, all the men, with the exception of Garcia, returned covered in blood, said Barron's ex-girlfriend.

Without saying anything about Jason, giving an explanation as to where they had been or about the blood splatters on their clothing, Barron's ex-girlfriend said her beau asked her and Pena's wife to go pick Garcia up from Magic Industries.

After two trips to the location, during one of which Barron pointed out Garcia's body to the women, the two female companions returned to the crime scene and called 911.

"I was scared to touch his body," Barron's ex-girlfriend said about finding Jason in the parking lot. "Jason's body was face down in a pool of blood."

Additionally, Barron's ex-girlfriend said she witnessed all the men, except for Garcia, burning Garcia's hat, cellular telephone and wallet in a barbecue pit.

Barron's girlfriend shared with jurors that she was testifying as part of a plea deal where her testimony would lead to pending felony charges against her possibly being dropped.

Rolando Pena's wife also took the stand.

"Pretty much, Rolando said it's none of my business. Don't worry about it," his wife said about how Rolando responded to her questions about his activities earlier that morning.

She became more informed of what happened when Barron, Marcus Pena and the female companions from the night before came later that morning to pick up Rolando Pena from her house.

The males fled the area in Rolando Pena's wife's white, early '90s Cadillac.

Rolando Pena's wife admitted to the jury that at first she was not completely honest with law enforcement about her husband's involvement in the crime.

"At the time, I was scared for the protection of my husband," she said. "I feel I just need to be honest."

Even so, she said she plans on sticking by her man.

"We plan on staying married, but we have our ups and downs right now," she said.

Castillo and Rolando Pena were also arrested in late August 2009 and charged with Garcia's death.

However, both men received plea deals in exchange for their testimonies.

Assistant District Attorney Eli Garza is also representing the state.

The case will resume Wednesday at 9 a.m. in Judge Robert Cheshire's courtroom.

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