Ex-Priest Gets Life in Prison for 1960 Killing — The Latest

Former priest John Feit was convicted of murdering Irene Garza whose

Former priest John Feit was convicted of murdering Irene Garza whose

Placing their faith in a 12-member jury, the family finally got their prayers answered Thursday night when Feit was found guilty of murder.

For more than 55 years, the crime went unpunished until in February 2016 when authorities arrested John Feit, a former priest in at the time Garza was murdered. On Thursday, Feit was convicted of assaulting and murdering Gaza 57 years ago. The young woman had also reportedly been named "band sweetheart" while attending McAllen High School and was named "senior class sweetheart" while at Pan America College.

Feit, then a priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, came under suspicion in the investigation early on. She was found dead in a canal a few days later.

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Hidalgo County Assistant District Attorney Michael Garza hold a photograph of Irene Garza as he presents his closing argument in John Bernard Feit's trial for the 1960 murder of Garza in the 92nd state District Court in Edinburg, Texas, U.S., December 7, 2017.

Prosecutors presented evidence that elected and church officials suspected Feit of killing the woman but wanted to avoid prosecuting him because it would harm the church's reputation and elected officials politically. Feit eventually became a supervisor at the center and was responsible for clearing priests to return to ministry and making sure they were fit to do so. Feit coordinated the charity's volunteers, known as Vincentians, who work in food pantries and reach out to local families with utility assistance and rent assistance programs.

Feit asked that the jury decide his punishment.

Garza, who's body rests in a Mission, Texas cemetery, is remembered by her loved ones as a role model who broke racial barriers and led a devout religious life.

Feit was living in a retirement home in Arizona when he was indicted last year and extradited to Texas to stand trial in the case.

Those involved with bringing her case to a close believe the spirit of Irene Garza was always there to show them the way. They live in Arizona, a place where Feit will no longer be able to return.

Tacheny told the court that Feit confessed to attacking Garza in the church rectory before putting her unconscious body in the basement while he went next door to the church to hear another parishioner's confession. "The judge was great on his rulings and I think we're solid".

A priest said he saw scratches on Feit's hands shortly after Garza's disappearance. She had been working as a school teacher at the time of her death.

Since the 1970s, Feit has enjoyed family life. An autopsy report shows Sanchez was hit with a stun gun and shot five times in the chest, pelvis and upper arm.

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