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Former priest sentenced to life in prison for murder of teacher in Texas border city

December 13, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Former priest sentenced to life in prison for murder of teacher in Texas border city

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A jury in South Texas jury a Catholic priest to life behind bars for the slaying of a school teacher and former beauty queen in 1960 when he was working at a local church. For over 55 years, the priest succeeded in avoiding any consequences in connection with the killing.

This week, 85-year-old John Feit was found guilty of murder after a week-long trial. Just a day after the conviction, jurors sentenced him to life in prison for the slaying of Irene Garza, Valley Central reported.

A school teacher and a former beauty queen, Garza went to confession at a church in the city of McAllen during Holy Week in 1960 but was attacked and killed. At around the time of the murder, Feit attempted to rape another woman and pleaded guilty to assault and paid a $500 penalty.

John Feit enters the 92nd state District Court before the verdict was read in his trial for the 1960 murder of Irene Garza (Nathan Lambrecht/The Monitor via AP)

During the trial, testimony showed a deal between the district attorney in 1960 and Catholic Church members.

As part of the agreement, Feit was expected to plead guilty to the assault and police would not investigate him in association with the killing.

Additionally, the agreement relied on church officials sending Feit away. The priest operated with impunity for 55 years, before eventually leaving the church, and relocating to Arizona.

Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez opened up the cold case after he took office. He had Feit taken into custody in 2016. Rodriguez extradited him to Hidalgo County where authorities held him in custody until his trial.

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