Testimony began Tuesday in the 249th Court in the case of Cleburne resident Juan Antonio Garza, 24, of Cleburne, on a charge of aggravated kidnapping.
Garza, on Sept. 30, 2018, allegedly kidnapped his former girlfriend and drove her to Hillsboro. Garza allegedly grabbed the victim’s arm then picked her up and forced her into his car and hit her at least two times.
A Hillsboro police officer later located Garza’s parked car.
Johnson County Assistant District Attorney Brent Huffman played body cam video from the Hillsboro officer for jurors on Tuesday.
In the video, the officer asks Garza to step out of the car, which he does. The officer then asks Garza to turn around and place his hands on his head during which Garza several times asks the officer to tell him what he did. Garza complies initially but then flees on foot chased by the officer.
The video, which lasts about 15 minutes, shows the officer chasing Garza to a nearby gas station and then into a wooded area. The officer then waits for backup and Garza is found and arrested several minutes later.
The victim testified that she and Garza had dated for about six months sometime before the alleged kidnapping occurred but would occasionally talk or text, sometimes in a romantic nature, after they stopped dating.
The victim said Garza refused to leave her alone in the days leading to Sept. 30, 2018, despite the fact that she told him to leave her alone and told him she didn’t believe he would ever change.
The victim said she was living with her aunt at the time in Cleburne and that Garza showed up uninvited on the night of Sept. 30.
“I heard someone knocking but couldn’t tell where it was coming from because I was already sleeping,” the victim testified. “My cousin woke me up and told me someone was knocking on her window and said, ‘It’s your dude.’”
The victim said she answered the front door but did not allow Garza inside. Instead she said she begged him to leave but that he refused to listen.
The victim said she tried to go back inside at which time Garza grabbed her arm and started dragging her down the stairs.
“I tried to get hold of the stairs and he just grabbed me and picked me up,” the victim said. “That’s when he started shoving me in the car and hit me in the nose.
“He put me in the passenger seat and I was able to honk the horn. I thought maybe if someone heard or heard me screaming they would come to help because I was scared.”
The victim said Garza hit her again when she tried to get out of the car and that he kept saying to himself that he messed up and was going to go to jail.
The victim said she had no idea where he intended to take her but, based on a phone call he received during the drive, she thought he might be taking her to Houston.
A neighbor who was on the porch with a friend across the street said they she and her friends heard voices, which surprised them because they didn’t think anyone else was out or awake at that hour. The voices turned to screams, the neighbor testified. At first she and her friend thought the couple were playing around but soon realized the situation was serious and called the police.
“She was kicking, like trying to get away,” the neighbor testified. “Then he threw her in the car and, at that point, we heard the horn honking. She tried to get out of the driver’s side as he got in and he pushed her back in then backed out peeling out. She tried to get out of the passenger door and he just pulled her back in and peeled out.”
During a video interview with Cleburne police Garza admits to having “picked” the victim up but said he never hit her. Garza said she put her seat belt on and was hugging his arm.
Garza said he had no intention, or enough gas money, to go to Houston that night.
Garza said he just wanted to spend time with and talk to the victim. Garza said had the police officer not located his vehicle in Hillsboro he would have brought the victim back to Cleburne.