Pleading guilty to murder, an El Campo man is prison-bound, almost four years after he beat a fellow boarder to death in the driveway of the house where they both lived.
Why remains unknown as 29-year-old Eliseo Dagoberto Climaco-Granadeno chose not to make a statement before 23rd District Court Judge Ben Hardin who handed down a five-year prison sentence.
“The real motive is unknown. The investigation did reveal that it was possibly related to a drug deal gone wrong,” Wharton County District Attorney Dawn Allison told the Leader-News.
Police believe Climaco is the sole person responsible for the bludgeoning death of 46-year-old Geronimo Garcia Jr. who was found in the driveway of the 608 Cheryl boarding house he called home. He had suffered multiple head wounds around 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017.
“The El Campo Police Department and Texas Rangers did an excellent job investigating the case,” Allison said, adding, “Due to the circumstances surrounding the case, such as a deceased key witness, unreliability of additional witnesses and mitigating evidence, the district attorney’s office believes the plea agreement was a just result in the interest of justice.”
The victim’s family was consulted prior to Tuesday’s court session.
The investigation pointed to Climaco, a fellow boarder, immediately. He was questioned for six hours the day after the killing, and then, lacking evidence, officers released Climaco.
Six weeks later, a warrant was issued for Climaco’s arrest.
“He was a suspect from the very beginning,” El Campo Police Detective Jennifer Mican told the newspaper at the time, but added Climaco was not immediately arrested because “there was additional evidence that was analyzed ... lab results we were waiting on.”
Then, officers were unable to find Climaco.
Not knowing about the warrant, he walked into the El Campo Police Station on April 12, 2017 trying to reclaim property collected during the investigation.
Instead, Climaco was arrested.
“He definitely was upset about it,” Mican said.
Climaco had been held in the Wharton County Jail since then, unable to post a $1 million bond.
“The defendant is entitled to any credit for time served while he was held in custody ... He has an additional 524 days to serve in prison,” Allison said, adding that Climaco will likely be transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement once his prison term is complete.
The Southwest El Campo boarding house was the site of another slaying in 2014.
Summoned to 608 Cheryl for a welfare concern on Jan. 5, 2014, police found 27-year-old Daniel Martinez-Hernandez, a resident there, stabbed 52 times with a kitchen steak knife.
Three men were arrested on murder charges that night.
Marvin Reynaldo Privado-Deleon and Natalio Leivo, who had also been a resident of the boarding house, pleaded guilty to manslaughter Oct. 16, 2014. Both were sentenced to five-year prison terms. Once their time is served, they face a federal immigration hold as they appear to be in the country illegally, according to information released by then Wharton County District Attorney Ross Kurtz.
Charges on the third man were ultimately dropped.
There is no evidence the cases are linked aside from the location itself.