John Feit sits with his lawyer O. Rene Flores before the start of the sentencing phase of his trial for the 1960 murder of Irene Garza in the 92nd state District Court Friday, December 8, 2017, at the Hidalgo County Courthouse in Edinburg, Texas.
The 25-year-old Garza disappeared April 16, 1960.
Prosecutor Michael Garza, who is not related to the victim, had asked the jury not to view the now elderly and weak Feit as he is today, but to try to imagine him as a 28-year-old man capable of subduing the woman. They deliberated four more hours Friday before agreeing on a punishment of life in prison. "As he was leaving, the young lady said, 'I can not breathe". Feit was a young visiting priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas, when he came became the only suspect in the death of the school teacher and former beauty queen.
Feit had always been suspected of Garza's murder after she went missing the night before Easter Sunday in 1960. One of them said he saw scratches on Feit soon after Garza's disappearance.
A reason Feit may have avoided prosecution was the presidential election, as John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, was campaigning for the White House.
As suspicions mounted against him, Feit was moved by the Catholic Church - first to a small town in Missouri, then to a home for troubled priests in New Mexico. John Feit, 85, was arrested in February 2016 for a murder that had taken decades for authorities to prosecute. Ricardo Rodriguez had promised that if elected, he would re-examine the case. It's not yet clear when Feit will be transferred to prison, nor which prison unit he'll be transferred to.