A 37-year-old Brownsville woman accused of helping a romantic partner help kill a 19-year-old woman in April pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon to a charge of murder.
Esmeralda Chapa appeared in front of state District Judge Marla Cuellar from the Hidalgo County Adult Detention Center for the arraignment, which was broadcast via YouTube with attorneys and court staff appearing via video-conferencing.
Chapa, who was indicted on July 13, is charged along with 37-year-old Weslaco resident Guadalupe Ybarra over the April 17 shooting death of Ruth Esmeralda Olvera.
He was indicted the same day and entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment last Thursday.
Ybarra, who was Olvera’s stepfather, also had a relationship with the woman, according to Mercedes police.
After finding Olvera’s body inside a 2013 Chevrolet Cruze parked at 2102 W. Expressway 83 at approximately 8:37 p.m., investigators met with her mother who told police she suspected Ybarra harmed her daughter, according to a probable cause affidavit.
She “stated that she believes her ex-husband Guadalupe Ybarra is responsible for Ruth’s death because Mr. Ybarra, who was also involved with Ruth is a very violent and aggressive person.”
Mercedes police say they met with Ybarra that same day.
He claimed Olvera called him at 11:30 a.m. saying people were following her in two vehicles and that someone from one of those vehicles banged on her vehicle, according to affidavit.
“Mr. Ybarra said that the line then got disconnected and (he) did not hear from her again. Mr. Ybarra stated that the messages and phone calls that he made with Ruth (are) erased and are no longer saved on his phone,” the affidavit states.
During an earlier bond hearing in Ybarra’s case, a prosecutor told a judge that a search of Olvera’s phone revealed threatening, aggressive messages from Ybarra.
Investigators also spoke with Chapa who said she was with Ybarra the Saturday Olvera died, according to police.
Those investigators, however, say they found Chapa and Ybarra’s stories to be inconsistent and contrary though the probable cause affidavit does not lay out those inconsistencies and contradictions in plain language.
The affidavit does say investigators learned through searching Ybarra’s phone that he had been excessively harassing Olvera while asking for her whereabouts and about whether she was having sex with other men.
“Mr. Ybarra also voice messaged Ms. Olvera that he was receiving calls from unknown numbers that they were going to kill her and her daughter,” the affidavit states.
Olvera asked Ybarra to record the call and send it to her, which he did, according to police.
When police listened to that call they recognized Chapa’s voice and a search of her phone showed she and Ybarra were communicating the same day the threatening message was left on Ybarra’s phone.
The other piece of evidence the affidavit describes is Ybarra’s browser history on his phone, which had not been cleared.
Investigators say in the document that they found research searches on how to use and shoot at Taurus 9mm PT92 pistol, as well as searches about the interior of a 2013 Chevrolet Cruze — the same type of vehicle where police found Olvera’s body.
Chapa remains jailed on a $1 million bond while Ybarra remains held on a $300,000 bond, jail records show.