Mercedes man pleads guilty to Weslaco murder

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Jorge Antonio Gracia

An 18-year-old Mercedes man on Thursday pleaded guilty to gunning down a 19-year-old man in Weslaco nearly two years ago.

Jorge Antonio Gracia reached a plea deal with prosecutors over the Dec. 11, 2021 killing of Leonel Guerra.

In exchange for his plea, prosecutors are asking that he be sentenced to at least 30 years in prison but no more than 35 years.

Weslaco police, sheriff’s deputies and the U.S. Marshals arrested Gracia on Dec. 23, 2021. They also arrested a 15-year-old suspect at the time, but since he is a minor the status of his case is confidential.

The investigation began at 6:41 p.m. on Dec. 11, 2021 when police responded to an R.V. Park located at 600 S. Bridge Ave. in reference to shots fired. Upon arrival, police found Guerra with a single gunshot wound to his back.

“Officers attempted CPR first aid to no avail. He ended up passing then,” Weslaco Police Chief Joel Rivera said at the time. “Through some hard work and some good investigative work, two suspects were developed and identified.”

Following the shooting, police released photos of the suspect vehicle, a 2010 Chevrolet Silverado with Texas plates and several Harley Davidson stickers on the tailgate.

With assistance from the public, investigators found that truck, which was abandoned.

“We recovered evidence from that vehicle. It was part of our investigation. It helped us end up identifying suspects in that case,” Rivera previously said.

The chief said that the suspects knew each other and were involved in illicit activity that resulted in a disagreement that led to the murder.

Gracia is scheduled to be sentenced in December.

He has remained in custody at the Hidalgo County Adult Detention Center since his arrest on a $1 million bond.