Jury mulls capital murder verdict in stabbing

Defendant is accused of helping lure robbery victim, killing him.

By Jessica Kwong, San Antonio Express-News Staff

Updated 11:58 p.m., Monday, November 14, 2011

James Garza was 17, “a scared young man” under the control of a friend, when he helped lure an acquaintance to a parking lot to steal his car, his lawyer said Monday.

But the acquaintance, Mario Raygoza, 19, was stabbed to death and Garza faces an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole if the jury in his capital murder trial finds him guilty. The panel was unable to reach a verdict after deliberating more than five hours and will resume today.

There was “absolutely no question” Garza, now 19, was guilty of aggravated robbery, defense attorney Wayne Huff told jurors in closing arguments. Garza and Stephen Vogt, 19, “were going to use knives to scare (the victim) for his car” and take off to Colorado to get away from their disapproving parents.

Garza was in a state of “complete immaturity and complete control by another human being” and told an officer he barely stabbed Raygoza in the back, Huff said. It was Vogt who was responsible for the fatal stab wounds, he argued.

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