Saturday, March 3, 2012

Wichita Falls, TX: Man linked to woman's death

Wichita Falls police identified a person of interest in a February murder case following the man's arrest on two unrelated assault charges.

Jerry Joe Garza, 40, address listed in Ennis, was in custody at the Wichita County Jail on Friday in lieu of $1 million in bonds. Garza was charged with two counts of aggravated assault stemming from a violent incident in November at a Wichita Falls nightclub.

Garza is the former boyfriend of 32-year-old Monica Partida, a Wichita Falls woman who was found killed in her home on Feb. 9. Sgt. Joe Snyder, police spokesman, confirmed Friday afternoon Garza is considered a "person of interest" in that homicide investigation.

No official suspects have been named. Detectives have only described Partida's cause of death as by "violently homicidal means."

Arrest warrant affidavits released Friday detailed the events of the Nov. 23 assault charges Garza was jailed on. One of the witnesses to the assaults is listed in the affidavits as Partida, who told police she and Garza had been in a dating relationship.

Officers were called that day to the Las Vegas Club, 309 N. Scott, on a disturbance report. There, they met with two male victims of an alleged assault. One of the victims had part of his thumb bitten off during the attack by Garza, he said.

Two witnesses came forward at the scene, one of whom was Partida. She told police she had broken up with her boyfriend, Garza, earlier in the day. She said Garza had been sending her several text messages telling her if she danced with anyone at the Las Vegas Club "there would be trouble."

The victims of the alleged assaults later told investigators Garza had severely beaten them with his fists and struck a man with a beer bottle. One of the victims was hospitalized with a severe face laceration, thumb injury and broken nose.

On Feb. 9, officers discovered Partida's body in a home in the 1300 block of Britain Street after receiving a call from a concerned acquaintance. Investigators instantly called the death "suspicious" and later confirmed Partida had been killed.

Few other details have been released on the case, though police were said to be following strong leads in the weeks following the discovery.

Garza was arrested for the aggravated assault charges Wednesday.

A records check showed Garza had been handled by the WFPD on at least three other assault family violence reports allegedly committed against the same victim.

A probable cause affidavit indicated the most recent incident was on Dec. 3. Police were again called to a disturbance at the Las Vegas Club. They met with an unnamed victim and Garza in the parking lot.

The woman had a visible knot and redness on her forehead, the affidavit said.

The victim said she was injured when she fell outside of the bar. The bar bouncer and two other witnesses said they saw Garza pull the victim's hair, then push her to the ground during an argument.

Garza and the victim had been living together for about four months, the affidavit said.

The report also indicated Garza had been convicted of assault causing bodily injury in 2004 in Dallas County.

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