Mission man pleads guilty to friend’s kidnapping, murder

Edna Rivera Cantu, Alfredo Huerta and Julio Cesar Deleon

On the eve of jury selection, a 23-year-old Mission man instead pleaded guilty to kidnapping and murdering his one-time friend.

Court records indicate Alfredo Huerta entered the plea to an indictment charging him with capital murder for the July 24, 2019 killing of Fernando Garza Jr.

He had been scheduled for jury selection on Friday.

Following his admission of guilt, state District Judge Letty Lopez sentenced him to 40 years in prison, according to court records.

Prosecutors had been seeking a life sentence for Huerta had he gone to trial, and Garza’s family told the newspaper in 2019 that anything less than the death penalty was an injustice in their eyes after the state announced it would not be seeking the ultimate sentence against Huerta and his co-defendants, 31-year-old Mission resident Edna Rivera Cantu and 28-year-old Penitas resident Julio Cesar Deleon.

Probable cause affidavits for the trio indicate that Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office investigators believe Deleon and Huerta kidnapped Garza and another man and took them to an orchard in Mission where Garza was shot in the face.

Garza’s father later encountered Huerta, who claimed both he and Garza had been kidnapped, but that he had escaped.

Investigators allege Rivera knew Garza’s fate and assisted in the kidnapping.

Authorities discovered Garza’s body on July 27, 2019 in an orchard between Mile 11 and Mile 12 on Iowa Road and Huerta was arrested a few days later.

The probable cause affidavits allege that Rivera tied Garza and the other man, Luis Domingo Dominguez, by the wrists at her house at 8606 Marivel Ortiz St.

“Edna knew what was going to happen and is the one who bound their wrists together with tape,” the affidavit stated. “(Deleon) and (Huerta) took them to an orchard where (Deleon) shot and killed Fernando.”

Dominguez, however, survived. The affidavits said Huerta and Deleon took him to a separate location where the vehicle used was left behind.

DeLeon and Rivera are also facing multiple drug charges after investigators discovered methamphetamine, marijuana and Xanax inside two black duffel bags inside Rivera’s home.

Rivera and Deleon have pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, which include capital murder, and have remained in the Hidalgo County Adult Detention Center since their arrests.