Man who lured Rio Grande City teen to his death convicted of tampering

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Phillip Henry Selvera

The man accused of being paid $10,000 to lure 17-year-old Chayse Olivarez to a ranch where the Rio Grande City teen was shot and killed, dismembered and burned, has been convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 35 years in state prison, prosecutors announced in a news release Friday.

Phillip Henry Selvera Jr.’s conviction comes by way of a plea agreement with the Starr County District Attorney’s Office, which consulted with the victim’s family on the decision.

District Attorney Gocha Allen Ramirez’s office said in the release that the defendant, now 22, played a significant role in Olivarez’s gruesome death on July 30, 2017. Olivarez’s remains were found the following August on a ranch in Roma.

“The evidence admitted in court showed that Selvera, although not the shooter, was instrumental in the planning and ultimate murder of Chayse Olivarez along with other co-conspirators,” Ramirez’s office said in the release.

The DA’s office went on to credit the work of prosecutors including Ramirez, first assistant DA Alexandria L. Barrera and victim advocate Melody Rosa, as well as the Starr County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Rangers for what it called an exhaustive investigation that spanned more than six years.

Prosecutors went on to describe Olivarez’s family as having shown “incredible strength and resilience throughout this difficult time.”

Selvera’s conviction is the latest in the case in which three were charged with murder.

Sebastian Torres

Sebastian Torres, 22, of Roma, is scheduled to plead guilty in the case later this month. Torres was initially charged with capital murder and tampering with physical evidence, Olivarez’s body.

His guilty plea, however, is only for the tampering charge and is in exchange for testifying in Selvera’s trial. If the terms of the plea agreement are accepted, Torres would be sentenced to three years probation and would be fined $315 in court costs.

Jose Luis Garcia Jr., 23, the primary suspect in the case, was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison on Nov. 8, 2019 for a single count of tampering with physical evidence.

The Monitor previously reported that Garcia was acquitted of murder despite describing to investigators Olivarez’s killing, step by step, as well as the location of the murder weapon all during a recorded confession.

Visiting state District Judge Rogelio Valdez instructed jurors during Garcia’s trial to disregard the confession if they believed it was taken illegally, a matter which had come into question during the proceeding.

Allegations also included Garcia paid Selvera $10,000 to lure Olivarez to the ranch where the teen was killed.

Testimony during Garcia’s trial further alleged Olivarez and Garcia’s fathers were rival drug traffickers.

During his trial, a Texas Ranger revealed under questioning that the man’s father was under investigation for drug trafficking.

Jose Luis Garcia Sr., 46, his father, is currently serving 27 years in federal prison on drug charges.