Former Priest Found Guilty of Strangling Texas Beauty Queen 57 Years Ago

EDINBURG — A former priest was convicted Thursday of the 1960 slaying of a South Texas teacher and one-time beauty queen who was a member of the parish he served.A Hidalgo County jury deliberated 6 1/2 hours before returning its verdict in the murder trial of 85-year-old John Bernard Feit, after hearing five days of testimony on Irene Garza's strangulation death 57 years ago.The jury will begin hearing evidence Friday morning on what punishment Feit should receive. He could be sentenced to up to 99 years or life imprisonment.Prosecutors Michael Garza, who was not related to the victim, and Krystine Ramon hugged members of Irene Garza's family after the verdict was read. District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez, who campaigned for election in part on a pledge to reopen the Garza murder case, embraced his team of prosecutors and the Garza family, some of whom shed tears of relief.A stone-faced John Feit was led from the courtroom back to his county jail cell to await the morning.Authorities said Garza, 25, visited Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, where Feit was a priest, on April 16, 1960. Garza, who was Miss All South Texas Sweetheart 1958, had planned to go to confession that evening. She never returned home, and her bludgeoned body was found days later. An autopsy found that she had been raped while unconscious and had been beaten and suffocated.  Continue reading...

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