Man pleads guilty in 2016 murder of Victoria man

Benito Garcia was discovered dead near the Navarro train bridge in September 2016. Jesse Bozarth, 28, entered a guilty plea deal Tuesday in Garcia's murder that carries a 40-year prison sentence and $10,000 fine. 

A man accused of murdering a 50-year-old Victoria resident in 2016 entered a guilty plea Tuesday.

Jesse Bozarth, 28, was sentenced to 40 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 for murdering 50-year-old Benito Garcia, according to a news release from Victoria County District Attorney Constance Filley Johnson.

“I am glad they found some sort of justice,” said Trish Hastings, the longtime director of Christ’s Kitchen. “People need to realize that our homeless community are people, too, who feel and have the same needs and desires as anybody else does ... and we all bleed the same.”

Garcia was found dead by Victoria Police Department officers Sept. 28, 2016, near the railroad overpass in the 500 block of North Navarro Street near the intersection with East Stayton Avenue.

He was homeless at the time of his death and a daily client at Christ’s Kitchen, Hastings said.

“Benito was a lovable, happy-go-lucky guy when he was at Christ’s Kitchen,” she said. “I wish you could have seen his smile; he had these bright blue eyes that would twinkle when he laughed.”

Bozarth’s arrest warrant affidavit showed that he confessed Jan. 6, 2016, to murdering his “friend, Benny Garcia” while talking with a pastor at Faith Family Church in Victoria.

That same day, he was arrested on the warrant for murder and confessed again during a recorded interview at the Victoria Police Department, according to a previous Advocate report.

Judge Eli Garza determined Bozarth used a deadly weapon during Garcia’s murder, Johnson’s release said.

During the police department’s investigation, a man who is not identified in the original warrant contacted the department and said he had been drinking with Bozarth and Garcia on the night of the murder.

“An argument ensued, and Bozarth was left with Garcia,” the warrant said. “The male advised he believed Bozarth was the person responsible for Garcia’s murder.”

Bozarth was represented by Victoria attorney Keith Weiser, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Kali Venable is a public safety reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6558 or at kvenable@vicad.com.

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Investigative & Environmental Reporter

"I am a Houston native and 5th generation Texan, with a degree in journalism and minor in creative writing from the University of Texas at Austin. I care deeply about public interests and the community I serve.”

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