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Woman testifies she gave rides to suspects in beating death

By Gheni_Platenburg
Sept. 17, 2010 at 4:17 a.m.


Trial Continues

The case will resume at 9:30 a.m. Monday in district Judge Robert Cheshire's courtroom.

A family member of one of the men charged with beating to death a Victoria man a year ago said Friday she and her husband gave rides to three of the defendants.

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

Friday marked the fourth day of testimony.

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

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

The woman, who was a relative of Barron, said her husband asked her to give him a ride from Victoria to Corpus Christi.

After arriving in Corpus Christi, the two came into contact with Barron who, in turn, asked for a ride to a local home.

Upon arrival, two other men, who the woman could not identify in court, joined the group.

Rolando Pena Jr., 25, and Marcus Pena were the two other men suspected of being in the car, according to previous court testimony.

Earlier testimony indicated Barron and the Pena brothers were on the run after the beating death.

Garcia was attacked for refusing to jump in to help fight Andy "Lunatic" Higdon, who was Garcia's friend at Club Caliente earlier that evening, according to testimony.

Law enforcement later arrested everyone, except the woman relative, while the group was en route to Laredo.

When the woman got back to Victoria, her son found what was later identified to be Garcia's necklace and watch inside the luggage the men had packed into her car before their arrests, according to testimony.

Victoria Police Department crime scene technician Katherine Rodriguez also testified Friday.

Rodriguez told jurors she uncovered cigarette butts, a glove and a piece of black rubber from the parking lot of Magic Industries.

While on the stand, she said she also found jeans in a dryer and shoes in a washing machine at Marcus Pena's wife's home.

This corroborated earlier testimony given by Barron's ex-girlfriend that she put the clothes in the washing machine after they returned to Pena's wife's house covered in blood splatter.

Lisa Harmon Baylor, a DNA expert from the Texas Department of Public Safety's Corpus Christi crime lab, testified that of the evidence collected, only the shoes supplied enough DNA evidence to be conclusive.

The shoes showed DNA from Pena and the victim, she said.

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

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

Barron, who is represented by Brent Dornburg, and Pena, who is represented by attorney Jim Beeler, also face charges of engaging in organized criminal activity and capital murder.

District Attorney Steve Tyler and assistant district attorney Eli Garza are prosecuting the case.

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