Day one of testimony in the trial of a man accused in the 2015 death of a Lamar University nursing student came to an abrupt halt when the jury was sent home so that a hearing on witness testimony could be held.
Orlando Escuadra-Garcia is charged in the shooting death of Rhydan Bolton, 20, along with Darren Javon Spikes, of Jasper, who has not been tried yet, and Kristopher Garcia who was convicted of the crime and sentenced to 60 years in 2016.
Prosecutors say two years ago, Garcia and two others went to a convenience store on Florida Avenue in Beaumont determined to retaliate against a man who did not pay for drugs. Prosecutors say the men mistook Bolton for the other man.
Only two witnesses took the stand before jurors were sent home for the day so that 252nd District Court Judge Raquel West could discuss the issues the defense attorney had with witness testimony.
Defense attorney Tom Burbank made an objection when a witness brought up a conversation she had with another codefendant.
After a three-and-a-half-hour hearing Judge West looked said she would allow the jury to consider the testimony.
Earlier in the day when the former girlfriend of Kristopher Garcia, who was convicted in the case in 2016, took the stand she told jurors that Kristopher and Orlando Garcia had told her they were upset about getting fake money for a drug deal.
The defense argued that her testimony was hearsay while the prosecution argued their other witnesses would testify to similar accounts of the day of the murder.
The former girlfriend was called back up to the stand during the hearing when she testified she had heard Kristopher and Orlando Garcia questioning a boy who the two had kidnapped.
The former girlfriend kept changing her story saying she couldn’t hear exactly what they asked the boy but explained that Kristopher Garcia had also told her they “got” someone.
She took “got” to mean they had killed someone according to her testimony.
Another witness testified she had also heard Orlando and Kristopher Garcia questioning someone they had kidnapped saying she believed Orlando had a gun because his hands were in his pants pockets.
Earlier in testimony a 17-year-old boy said he was chased by a white truck then kidnapped by people inside the car.
He said there were three to five people who pulled him into the truck and then put a bag over his head.
The witness said the suspects kept asking him about a person named Anthony. He told the suspects he had a friend named Anthony in the 8th grade but he explained the suspects did not seem satisfied with his answer and continued to beat him.
The 17-year-old said he was later shoved back into the truck then dropped off in the street.
The testimony from the hearing will be heard by the jury Wednesday at 8:45 a.m when the trial reconvenes.