EDINBURG, Texas – The Latest on the murder trial of an ex-priest in the 1960 death of a Texas woman (all times local):
A former priest has been found guilty of murder in the 1960 slaying of a South Texas teacher and one-time beauty queen who was a member of the parish he served.
A Hidalgo County jury deliberated 6½ hours after hearing five days of testimony before returning its verdict in the murder trial of 85-year-old John Bernard Feit. He was accused of strangling 25-year-old Irene Garza to death in McAllen, Texas.
Authorities said Garza visited Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, where Feit was a priest, on April 16, 1960. Garza, who was Miss All South Texas Sweetheart 1958, had planned to go to confession that evening. She never returned home.
Prosecutors presented evidence that elected and church officials suspected Feit of killing the woman but wanted to avoid prosecuting him because it might harm the church's reputation and elected officials politically.
This story has been corrected to change "five days of deliberations" to "five days of testimony."
The murder trial of a former priest accused of killing a woman in South Texas in 1960 has been sent to the jury.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys gave their closing arguments Thursday in the case of 85-year-old John Feit. He's accused of suffocating Irene Garza after she went to confession at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen.
An autopsy determined that Garza was beaten, raped while unconscious and asphyxiated. The teacher and former beauty queen was 25.
Prosecution witnesses testified that the sheriff, district attorney and church officials at the time conspired to protect Feit. A former monk told jurors that Feit confessed to him three years after the killing and showed no remorse.
Feit's attorney argues there's insufficient evidence to convict the former priest.