2 indicted on murder charges over iPhone sale in San Juan

Anthony Ferrer and Cesar Parra

A 19-year-old Donna man charged with murder during the sale of an iPhone is scheduled to be arraigned this week.

A Hidalgo County grand jury indicted Cesar Alexandro Torres Parra Sept. 21 on a single count of murder over the shooting death of Jonathan Jacob Romero.

He’s set to appear before a judge Wednesday to enter a plea to the charges.

Parras was charged along with 17-year-old Alamo resident Anthony Joseph Ferrer, who was also indicted Sept. 21 on a murder charge. He is scheduled to be arraigned in late October.

The duo became suspects in the Aug. 7 killing when Alamo police notified the San Juan Police Department of a shooting at the San Juan Shop Plaza at 713 W. Interstate 2.

Romero’s body, however, was found several miles east of the location in the parking lot of Bison Roofing & Construction Company’s parking lot, which is next to the South Texas Health System Emergency Room in Alamo. Romero had been shot several times and was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Investigators allege 20-year-old Donna resident Alberto Magana Karr drove a blue Ford F-150, which is the vehicle where the shooting occurred, to that location and dumped Romero’s body.

Alberto Magana Karr was indicted Oct. 5 on a charge of tampering with physical evidence, as was 50-year-old Donna resident Alberto Garcia Karr.

Their relationship isn’t immediately clear, but the indictments against both of them make an identical allegation, that they knew about the murder and “intentionally or knowingly conceal or alter a thing, to-wit: a motor vehicle containing biological and/or trace evidence, with intent to impair its availability as evidence in any subsequent investigation or official proceeding relating to the offense.”

San Juan police arrested both of them Aug. 13 and at the time of their arrests, investigators said in a probable cause affidavit that they had been unable to locate that blue Ford F-150.

Investigators began piecing together what they believed happened after establishing a timeline of Romero’s location and by reviewing surveillance footage, which showed that Romero arrived at the San Juan Shop Plaza between 3 and 3:15 p.m. that day and met with people in a white Chevrolet Malibu, according to a probable cause affidavit.

That footage showed a man in a white shirt exit the Malibu and make contact with the occupants inside the Ford F-150, police say.

“Shortly after, a male subject wearing a dark shirt, blue jeans, and black shoes is seen running away from the vehicles,” the affidavit read. “Gunshots are heard through surveillance footage as the male subject is seen leaving location. Seconds later, both vehicles are seen leaving location.”

After obtaining the Malibue’s license plates, investigators learned that it belonged to Ferrer, who is roommates with Torres, according to police.

Investigators spoke with their girlfriends who said they last saw them at 2 p.m. Aug. 7, and Ferrer’s mother told investigators she saw them drop the Malibu off at the apartment and then leave at about 4 p.m. that day, according to the affidavit.

Police say both Torres and Ferrer voluntarily spoke with investigators and said they were inside the Malibu with another person only identified as “Justin.”

Investigators say Torres said they met with someone in the Ford F-150 to sell Ferrer’s iPhone.

“Mr. Torres stated (that) Mr. Ferrer entered the Ford F-150 through the passenger seat and observed two male subjects point handguns towards Mr. Ferrer. Mr. Torres was able to exit the vehicle and run from location and heard gun shots as he ran from the vehicles,” the affidavit stated.

Torres later spoke with Ferrer on the phone and Ferrer claimed he shot someone inside the truck, according to the affidavit. The affidavit also stated that Ferrer told investigators a gun was pointed at his head when he entered the truck.

“Mr. Ferrer confessed to hitting the gun away from his direction, grabbing the gun and shooting towards the driver,” the affidavit read.

Torres remains jailed on a $150,000 bond on the murder charge and on a $50,000 bond on a charge of engaging in organized criminal activity.

Online court records do not indicate whether he has been indicted on engaging in organized criminal activity.

He is expected to ask a judge Wednesday to either reduce his $150,000 bond on the murder charge or to grant a personal recognizance bond, court records indicate.

Ferrer bailed out of the Hidalgo County Adult Detention Center Sept. 1 on a bond of $150,000 for the murder charge and a $25,000 bond for the charge of engaging in organized criminal activity.

Like Torres, court records do not show an indictment on the engaging in organized criminal activity charge.

Jail records indicate Alberto Garcia Karr bailed out Aug. 14 on a bond of $50,000 and online court records don’t list a date for his arraignment on the tampering with evidence indictment.

As for Alberto Magana Karr, he was also charged with failure to report a felony resulting in death and remains jailed on a total of $37,000. The total bond amount also includes unrelated charges of unlawful carrying of a weapon and evading arrest or detention in Mission.

He is also being held without bond on prior convictions of possession of a controlled substance and a charge of deadly conduct. He had received probation in those cases and the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office is seeking to revoke his probation, court records indicate.