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seven or eight miles a day and I was a body builder here in town. I was big across the chest and weighed around 180 when it happened. When I got out of the hospital, I was down to 130 pounds.” According to Villareal, Garcia asked if he could ride her bicycle. As he slowly rode with Villareal walking by his side, a 1969 Ford pickup with Michael Dees, 15, and Alan Holt, 17, inside barely missed hitting them as it sped down the road. The pickup then turned around and came back alongside Garcia and Villareal and began threatening Garcia when a van pulled up behind the boys, forcing them onto the opposite shoulder. When the van left, the boys turned the pickup around again and headed right for Garcia, who tried to pull off the road entirely. They hit Garcia and sent him flying through the air; then they sped away. Villareal ran for help, and soon Kyle police, Hays County sheriff’s deputies, and DPS trooper Darryl White were on the scene. The officers determined the matter was in White’s jurisdiction since it happened outside the Kyle city limits. Villareal gave her version of the incident to White. A few moments later, Dees and Holt arrived, driven by Holt’s aunt. They told White that they had accidentally hit Garcia while avoiding an oncoming car, which they described in detail. By this time, Garcia’s family and neighbors were at the scene because it occurred not far from his home. “Garcia comes from a very typical Mexican American extended family,” attorney Martinez said. “They were all there at the scene. They saw there were no arrests. No one was put in handcuffs. Their experience with DPS has always been the opposite throw the handcuffs on them and take them away.” Martinez contends that, had two Mexican American boys hit an Anglo on a bike, they would have been charged, thrown in jail, and given very high bail to post. In writing his report, DPS trooper White apparently concluded that the incident was an accident. Villareal, who had recently moved to Kyle and was outraged by what had happened, gave a statement the next day to Hays County District Attorney Bill Rugeley. On Sunday, April 10, the San Marcos Record reported the event as an accident. The next day, Rugeley issued a statement saying that it was an accident and no charges were being filed against the two boys, based on the report he received from trooper White. Members of the Mexican American community in Kyle were enraged by the failure to file charges. They contacted County Commissioners Dan Campos and Ralph Gonzalez to get their assistance in pressing for a grand jury hearing. Then the DPS announced it had located the “oncoming car” described by Dees and Holt, a car which Villareal had said had not been on the scene. The car’s owner corroborated Villareal’s statement, saying he was nowhere near the vicinity of the incident. A Political Job On Wednesday, April 13, District Attorney Rugeley announced that after receiving a report from DPS Sergeant Ralph Myers, he had decided to call a grand jury to hear charges against Holt. Myers explained that the delay in his report had been necessitated by his desire to file the “best charge.” According to Martinez, the troopers are trained to file for the highest charge at the outset. Martinez explained the sudden change of mind by county authorities. “We made a media event out of it,” he said. “I let them know I had talked to the Attorney General’s office and to the Governor’s office. The Mexican American community wasn’t going to be out there by itself on a limb. This event was so repugnant to anybody’s sense of justice that the establishment got scared off. Knowing the Garcias had outside support made a big difference. If they hadn’t thought we had Austin support, it would have been swept under the rug. The D. A. in Hays County was very cognizant of the situation of the D. A. in Comal County. [See below.] He didn’t want to be called a racist and didn’t want demonstrators in front of their courthouse. It wasn’t a legal job we did. It was political. We put the pressure on.” On April 21, a Hays County grand jury met to consider charges against Alan Holt. While there was a parade of Kyle residents present to testify as character witnesses on behalf of Holt, the D. A. had not subpoenaed Susan Villareal, the only witness to the incident. She appeared, nonetheless, and repeated to the grand jury what she had seen. Martinez said of the hearing, “The Baptists had a prayer meeting for the boys [Dees and Holt] and produced witnesses for the grand jury hearing who said they hadn’t seen the accident, but just before they had driven by and almost hit this Garcia fellow, who was all over the road.” Other witnesses tried to discredit the victim by alluding to the criminal records of two of Garcia’s brothers. Dan Campos, a Hays County Commissioner from Kyle, who was instrumental in bringing the case to court, was among those who defended Garcia as a model worker as machine operator for the county for five years. The grand jury indicted Alan Holt on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon. His pretrial hearing is set for May 31 with the jury trial scheduled to begin June 6. Following Holt’s indictment, Rugeley asked for a county court hearing to certify Dees as an adult, making him eligible to stand trial. There are still questions in the community about the incident and the handling of the case. There is some speculation that Dees claimed to be driving the truck because he was less likely to be tried as an adult. There is also the matter of the D.A.’s failure to subpoena Susan Villareal. Rugeley would not discuss this question or anything relating to the case with the Observer, saying Judge Howard Warner of Hays County had issued a gag order. A Natural Separation But there are larger questions to be asked. Mack Martinez asks, “In this case, where was the history? They [the Holt and Dees boys and Garcia] did not know each other. There didn’t seem to be any macho rivalry over the girl. What happened is the kind of thing that’s been going on down there for years. They know what they can get away with. This incident is symptomatic of the ingrained, institutional racism in Hays County two boys who didn’t think any more of running over a Mexican American than running over a dog. It was perfectly natural for the white DPS officer to cover for the grandson of the white Justice of the Peace. James Holt is part of the Anglo establishment that has coffee every morning at the Dairy Queen.” “Kyle does have deep divisions in culture, ethnicity, and race and real problems resulting from that, which they have yet to solve or deal with effectively,” says Jeff Barton, publisher and editor of the Onion Creek Free Press, which serves Hays and Travis Counties. “Martinez has raised some valid questions concerning what would happen if the roles had been reversed. There’s room for questioning what prevailing attitudes have to do with the incident.” Not many people in Kyle are willing to talk about the incident or about social problems in Kyle. County Commissioner Dan Campos, the first Mexican American to represent this northern precinct of Hays County, would not comment beyond telling the Observer that Joe Garcia was a good, conscientious worker and family man. \(Campos, in a close Good books in every field JENKINS PUBLISHING CO. The Pemberton Press John H. Jenkins, Publisher Box 2085 Austin 78768 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9