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EDINBURG — A jury on Friday found a 62-year-old Pharr man guilty of killing his brother in 2021 while robbing him of $100 before dumping his body in a local park.
David Davila Sandoval was convicted of murder and tampering with physical evidence for the death of 66-year-old Ruben Sandoval.
He had initially faced a capital murder charge.
David Sandoval was scheduled to be sentenced Monday afternoon, but following testimony from his niece, Aileen Reyes, state District Court Judge Fernando Mancias decided to postpone the sentencing as he wanted to look into Sandoval’s mental health records.
During testimony, Reyes stated that the victim, Ruben Sandoval, was one of the only people who would help his brother out after he was released from prison, though she helped him out as well.
Reyes said that she was the one to pick him up from the halfway house he was in and would drive him to work when necessary.
Defense Attorney O. Rene Flores asked why that assistance stopped, Reyes responded by saying that she had her own life she needed to take care of.
Several exhibits were introduced during Reyes’ testimony, the majority of which were text messages David Sandoval sent to Reyes and her mother.
Despite Reyes blocking his number, David Sandoval would send Reyes threatening texts because she cut the water and gas from her grandmother’s home where he lived in an attempt to get him to leave the home.
Reyes said her grandmother had to move in with her due to his behavior and cited an incident where the neighbors called her because all of her grandmother’s clothes were scattered in the front yard, but David Sandoval was nowhere to be found.
Reyes believes he was taken to jail during the incident.
One neighbor, Edgar Avalos, testified in court and spoke of an incident where he heard David Sandoval yelling outside threatening someone who Avalos believed was David Sandoval’s girlfriend, despite her not being present.
Avalos stated David Sandoval was waving a weapon around, though he couldn’t remember what the weapon was, and warned him to stay away from his home and his kids.
According to the probable cause affidavit, two Pharr police officers discovered Ruben Sandoval’s body on April 21, 2021, at Memorial Park and observed him to have multiple head injuries.
His body was in the bed of a truck and covered with a blanket while emitting a foul odor.
Former Pharr Police Chief Andy Harvey described the head wounds to be “very, very severe.”
Later that same day, at around 8:40 p.m., an officer spotted David Sandoval in the 800 block of West Hawk which is four blocks away from the park.
Once spotted, David Sandoval ran to his residence at 801 W. State Street.
According to the affidavit, a neighbor told police that David Sandoval confessed to her that he hurt his brother for $100.
He’s accused of using a pickax and an “unknown object” to kill his brother.
David Sandoval’s roommate and co-defendant, 55-year-old Roel Pesina, also told police that David Sandoval confessed to harming his brother.
Pesina is charged with tampering with physical evidence and failure to report a felony resulting in death. He has pleaded not guilty and court records indicate his case has been on hold pending the solution of David Sandoval’s case.
Mancias, the judge, scheduled David Sandoval’s sentencing for September.