Former monk testifies in murder trial of ex-priest in Texas

EDINBURG, Texas (AP) — A former monk has testified that an ex-priest accused of killing a Texas woman in 1960 confessed to him three years after the killing.

Dale Tacheny testified Monday in the murder trial for John Feit, who is accused of suffocating Irene Garza after she went to confession at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen. An autopsy determined the teacher and former beauty queen was beaten, raped while unconscious and asphyxiated.

Tacheny said the now 85-year-old Feit confessed to him in 1963, after the church sent Feit to a Missouri monastery where Tacheny worked. The former Trappist monk said Feit expressed no remorse during the confession.

Tacheny said he didn’t initially report the crime because it “was not my place to make a judgment.” The 88-year-old said he instead tried to counsel Feit to change his behavior toward women. But in 2002, Tacheny went to police in San Antonio and reported what Feit allegedly told him decades earlier.

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Investigators said Feit gave them conflicting versions of what happened the day Garza died in April 1960. They said Feit initially alleged he didn’t take Garza’s confession and that another priest was present at the time. But he later said he was alone and had taken Garza’s confession, according to investigators.

Feit’s attorney argues there is no physical evidence linking his client to the killing. He also said Tacheny made assumptions about the crime when he reported it to police in 2002.