Edinburg man gets 19 years for 18-year-old woman’s shooting death

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Jonathan Mugia Salinas, 21, looks around the courtroom before being sentenced in the death of 18-year-old Alysha Renee Garza in the 275th state District Court at the Hidalgo County Courthouse on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

EDINBURG — A 21-year-old Edinburg man was sentenced to prison for the death of an 18-year-old woman after shooting her in the head at point blank range on June 22, 2020.

Initially charged with murder, Jonathan Mugia Salinas pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter following the death of Alysha Renee Garza, who died two days after Salinas shot her in the head.

State District Court Judge Marla Cuellar sentenced Salinas to 19 years in prison with a little over three years in credit.

“You’ll always be a murderer in my eyes,” Garza’s mother, Genevieve Vargas, said during the victim impact statement.

Mother of Alysha Renee Garza, Genevieve Vargas, reads a statement during the sentencing of Jonathan Mugia Salinas, 21, in the death of her daughter Alysha in the 275th state District Court at the Hidalgo County Courthouse on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

According to the probable cause affidavit, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched at 6:40 p.m. to the 4500 black of Phyllis Lane in Edinburg in response to an aggravated robbery, which was later reclassified to an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and then to murder.

Salinas initially told investigators that an armed intruder had shot his friend’s girlfriend, but the boyfriend told a different story.

Garza’s boyfriend told police that Salinas grabbed a gun from a dresser drawer, chambered the gun and deliberately pointed it to Garza’s head.

“Jonathan was standing in front of Alysha with his arm extended and the gun within close proximity of Alysha’s head at which point he shot her,” the affidavit said.

Salinas later admitted to shooting Garza with a gun he thought was empty, fabricating the story of an aggravated robbery and tossing the weapon into a canal near the home.

During Vargas’ victim impact statement, her younger daughter sat in the jury box near her mother, both in tears.

“You knew what you were doing when you pulled the trigger,” Vargas said.

The grieving mother accused Salinas of feeling indifferent about his actions and said she’s seen him laugh with his jail mates throughout the duration of the case.

Following her lamenting, Vargas revealed a bittersweet revelation regarding the death of her daughter.

Vargas stated that she could at least take pride in the fact that her daughter saved five lives following her death as an organ donor.

“I hope she haunts you in all of your dreams,” Vargas concluded her statement.

Before being escorted away, Salinas stated before the court that the death of Garza was an accident and apologized for what happened that fateful day.