Thursday, January 14, 2010


A suspect in a April 1987 murder in the Escobares area was arrested on Wednesday evening, Jan. 6 in a joint operation by the Starr County Sheriff’s Department and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Juan Francisco Martinez-Bautista, 53, was arrested at a Roma residence at approximately 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 6. He was apprehended after trying to flee through the back door of his residence.

Bautista was arraigned before 229th District Court Judge Alex W. Gabert and charged with murder in the April 19, 1987 slaying of Margarito Alaniz, Jr. near San Julian Road north of Escobares. Bautista’s bond was set at $1 million.

Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Guillermo Pena declared Monday, “He (the suspect) was apprehended in a joint operation between the Sheriff’s Department and U.S. Marshals Service. We had been following tips concerning the suspect for several years. We learned recently that he was living at a residence in Roma.”

Pena added, “When he was arrested, he tried to flee through the back door of his residence. He was unarmed at the time of his arrest.”

“He was believed to have crossed between Mexico and the U.S. a number of times in recent years,” stated the Chief Deputy. “At one time, he was believed to have lived in the Houston area.”

Alaniz was 30 at the time of his shooting death during the evening hours of April 19, 1987. Pena indicated, “He was shot several times in different parts of the body.”

Pena declared, “The slaying was believed to have occurred after an argument about a horse…The homicide was committed on April 19, 1987 at a ranch at San Julian Road in the Garceno area.”

The April 23, 1987 edition of The Rio Grande Herald reported that Alaniz “was shot at least four times at approximately 8:30 p.m. Sunday (April 19) at a private residence in the San Julian area three miles north of Escobares.”

The sheriff at the time, Gene Falcon, indicated in April 1987 that an autopsy revealed that Alaniz was shot twice in the stomach, once in the head and once in the leg.

The April 23, 1987 Rio Grande Herald stated, “Falcon said that Alaniz was shot after a very brief discussion with the alleged slayer. The sheriff indicated that the gunman drew a weapon, apparently a 9-millimeter handgun, and fired at least four times.”

According to the 1987 Herald article, Falcon indicated at the time that there were at least a couple of eyewitnesses to the shooting.

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