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Man found guilty of killing stepfather

By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- A jury decided the man accused of killing his stepfather 36 years ago is guilty.

It took jurors nearly eight hours Monday to find Roger Garrett guilty of murder. About a dozen of his family members and family friends were in the courtroom when the verdict was announced, many gasping the word "yes." They then broke out into tears of joy.

"I thank the jury for all their time and we're just very happy that the outcome turned out the way it is. The truth came out," said Danny Sander, the victim's nephew.

Sanders said he suspected it was Roger Garrett and his mother, Lisbeth Garrett, who killed the stepfather, Maj. Chester Garrett, the whole time. Chester Garrett was killed in 1977 and his body was found inside his Volkswagen in a desert area off Interstate 10.

After the guilty verdict was announced, Chester Garrett's family members said things haven't been the same since his death.

"We were so sad. When ever the family gathered together it was just sadness, all we spoke about was our brother, Chester, and the great things that he did and the injustice his life was cut short and it shouldn't have been," said Jackie Conner, Chester Garret's sister.

What helped the prosecution's case was testimony from Roger Garrett's ex-wife, her friend and brother Patrick Garrett, who told the jury Roger Garrett admitted to them he hit his stepfather with a baseball bat and then watched his mother stab him to death.  This conflicted with Roger Garrett's testimony and the defense said these witnesses were all framing Roger Garrett. But prosecutors weren't buying it.

"There was never, ever any ability to show a connection between (the three). In order to find Roger Garrett guilty you would have to believe in this conspiracy theory," said prosecuting attorney Denise Butterworth.

Family members and friends said this is just the first step toward justice, though.

"I'm ecstatic We still have a long way to go. One down one to go," said Suzanne May.

May is referring to Roger Garrett's mother, Lisbeth Garrett. She is also charged with murder. Her trial is scheduled for the beginning of next year. Family said they believe Roger Garrett was influenced by his mother.

Roger Garrett will be back in the courtroom Tuesday for the punishment phase. He could face five to 99 years in prison.


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