Lead detective in murder case takes the stand in fourth day of murder trial


EDINBURG, Texas – Juan Manuel Hernandez says he found the body of Maria Alisa Garza wrapped up in a bundle inside of her car that was parked in front of his apartment. He said he noticed this late one evening after arriving home from a friend’s apartment. But instead of calling police Hernandez says he takes the body upstairs and unwraps it and doesn’t notify police until the following day.

After unwrapping the body Hernandez sees a knife stuck in Garza’s rib cage. It is a knife he says he gave to the victim to defend herself against a boyfriend who 6 months previous, tried to strangle her to death and hold her hostage.

Hernandez says he takes the knife out and begins to cut himself. He says he does it out of anger because he loved Garza like a sister.

At today’s trial McAllen Police Detective Avila, the lead investigator in the case, taking the stand to discuss evidence collected as well as an interview with the defendant. In that interview Hernandez says if he could do it all over again, he would have called the police. During the intense interview investigators tried to get Hernandez to confess but he maintains his innocence, adding he would never put his hands on a female.

Investigators did confront Hernandez about a tarp which neighbors said he was asking for hours before he says he found the victim’s car with her body inside. Contradictory to previous testimony which Hernandez blames on being high and on drugs as the reason he could not recall correctly the timeline of events.

Cell phone records retrieved during the investigation were also discussed. Including the boyfriend of the victim which authorities said showed nothing out of the ordinary. However, during cross examination, the defense was able to present an official document which listed two cell phone numbers for the boyfriend.

On the stand Detective Avila said although he had the document, he did not see the second number listed and it was not investigated.

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