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Bryan man found guilty in slaying


Eagle Staff Writer


A jury convicted Bryan resident Gilberto Chavarria Gonzalez of murder Tuesday afternoon, agreeing with prosecutors that he shot an acquaintance to death over an arm wrestling match in April 2003.

The four-man, eight-woman jury took less than two hours to reach a verdict against Gonzalez, 44.

Prosecutors argued he shot Jesse Vela Moncivias Jr. with a .22-caliber rifle after losing to Moncivias in arm wrestling, then stood over the dying man and taunted him as he poured beer on his face.

The men had been drinking all night and had gotten into an argument when they ended up in the yard of a mobile home on Groesbeck Street with two other acquaintances, Assistant District Attorney Rashelle Rhoden told the jury.

Gonzalez then left, and soon after Moncivias was hit by a mysterious gunshot, according to the other two acquaintances. Investigators said they later located a rifle in Gonzalez’s nearby mobile home that matched the round that killed the 48-year-old man.

Prosecutors also argued Gonzalez’s behavior after the shooting was not that of an innocent man, saying he started rubbing his hands on the ground when police tried to conduct a gunpowder residue test on his skin.

But defense attorneys Cameron Reynolds and Rob Neal said prosecutors did not prove Gonzalez’s guilt during the weeklong trial. Reynolds said after the verdict that the case lacked physical evidence and no witnesses were able to get a clear look at the shooter.

“ We just argued that they didn’t make their case beyond a reasonable doubt and their case didn’t fit,” Reynolds said. “They had no eyewitnesses, no fingerprints, no physical evidence that connected the defendant to the crime. It was a circumstantial case — I think even the DA’s office would tell you that.”

Reynolds said an unidentified car was seen leaving the crime scene shortly after the shooting, but no effort was made to find out who was driving the vehicle or why it was leaving the area after Moncivias’ death.

The defense also presented evidence that the bullet appeared to be traveling downward when it hit Moncivias. Reynolds said Gonzalez is 5 feet 2 inches tall — 5 inches shorter than Moncivias — so it seems unlikely his client could have fired the shot.

The punishment phase is set to begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the 85th District Courtroom of the Brazos County Courthouse. Gonzalez faces up to 99 years or life in prison.

• Staff writer Christopher Ferrell contributed to this report.

• Kelli Levey’s e-mail address is


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