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EDINBURG — A 22-year-old Roma man previously accused of killing a Rio Grande City teen was placed on deferred adjudication for three years as part of a plea bargain where he promised to testify against his co-defendants.
Sebastian Torres had been charged with capital murder and tampering with physical evidence for the death of 17-year-old Chayse Olivarez, who was killed on July 30, 2017.
Olivarez’s remains were found the following August on a ranch in Roma.
As part of the plea deal, the murder charge was dropped in exchange for a guilty plea to the tampering charge and testifying against his co-defendants.
During the hearing, visiting state District Judge Rogelio Valdez heard from Torres’ defense how the death of Olivarez and the subsequent proceedings had affected Torres’ life.
Prosecutors reminded the court that Torres wasn’t the victim in this case and that Olivarez and his family were the ones truly suffering.
Following the arguments, Valdez sentenced Torres.
Torres will also have to pay a $315 fine to cover court costs.
Before adjourning, Olivarez’s mother and aunts faced Torres and provided victim impact statements.
Olivarez’s mother spoke of her late son and how he had just turned 17 and was looking forward to the future. She said he had previously been in New York due to an acting class he was taking and sent her a selfie, despite him not liking taking photos.
It was the last photo she had of her son.
“Chayse was a beautiful person,” she said through tears. “When everybody is celebrating, I have to take flowers to a grave.
“I have to pretend I’m not dying inside.”
She told Torres that he would understand the full significance of his actions once he has a child of his own and the paternal emotion of wanting to protect that child from the world.
“You’re gonna see and you’re gonna remember,” the grieving mother concluded.
One of Olivarez’s aunts went last and attempted to describe the emotion she felt when she carried his weightless casket due to the condition of his remains.
“He was a kid when he was killed. He was a kid when he was burned. He was a kid when he was dismembered,” she said.
She looked up and asked Torres if her nephew was kind to him. She also asked why he never came forward as he knew where the remains were, despite Olivarez’s family desperately searching for him for nearly two weeks.
Both the mother and aunt said they had held out hope that Olivarez was still alive somewhere.
When Valdez gave him the opportunity, Torres refused to respond.
His attorney stood up and told the court that Torres was remorseful and complied with the conditions of the plea bargain.
The Monitor previously reported that Jose Luis Garcia Jr. 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.
Valdez, the judge, had 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.
On Sept. 9, Phillip Henry Selvera, 22, who Garcia paid $10,000 to lure Olivarez to the ranch where he was killed, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.