A former Victoria County constable’s text messages did not corroborate his version of events about sexual assault allegations.
But the messages did align with allegations from a Victoria County woman who accused former Precinct 1 constable Jesse Garza of sexually assaulting her during a 2017 ride-along, Texas Ranger John Lingle testified Wednesday.
Wednesday marked the third day of trial for Garza, 38, who faces a second-degree felony sexual assault charge that carries a two- to 20-year prison sentence and up to $10,000 in fines. After finishing testimony with its final witness, investigator Lingle, the prosecution rested its case.
Defense attorney, former Victoria County district attorney Dexter Eaves, called a single witness, a Victoria County sheriff’s investigator who described the woman as “not very credible” although he admitted he had only known her for a “very short time.”
After that witness, District Judge Bobby Bell recessed court early to allow Garza ample time to consider whether he should testify.
“It’s a very complicated decision. Like I explained to my client, I am not looking at 20 years in prison. You are,” Eaves said after court had recessed.
Earlier in the day, prosecutors continued their testimony with the ranger who investigated allegations against Garza.
Details from the woman’s accusations, Lingle said, matched text messages obtained from Garza’s phone through a search warrant.
Garza’s accuser, who was 18 at the time, had participated in the ride-alongs because she was interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement.
The Victoria Advocate does not identify potential victims of sexual assault.
But numerous parts of Garza’s account of his interactions with the woman, Lingle said, did not match text communications between them.
After playing for jurors the entire 1.5-hour, video- recorded 2017 interview of Garza by Lingle, Special Prosecutor Tim Poynter questioned the ranger about his investigation.
In the video-recorded interview with the ranger, Garza said he and the woman had sex twice in his personal truck and not the official patrol pickup provided to him by Victoria County officials.
On the stand Tuesday, the woman said that and other specific and sexually explicit claims from Garza were lies.
Garza had also told the ranger that he had never texted the woman about sex, drugs or alcohol.
In fact, the text messages obtained from the search warrant revealed he had.
Finally, Garza and his attorney have stood by the claim that any sex between the former constable and his accuser was consensual. But one text message in particular refuted that claim, the prosecutor said.
“You said no that night but you gave into papi (daddy),” the text read.
Although Eaves repeatedly questioned the credibility of Lingle’s investigation, the ranger held strong, saying he had performed an unbiased and thorough examination of not only Garza’s version of events but also his accuser’s.
Nevertheless, the ranger said, the woman’s accusations never changed.
“I actually questioned her pretty hard and made her cry,” Lingle said about his third and final interview of the woman.