The third time was not the charm for a 56-year-old Pharr man spending the rest of his life in prison for murdering his pregnant girlfriend and staging a car crash in an attempt to convince police she died in the collision.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals declined to let Nelson Garcia Delgado file a third application for writ of habeas corpus last week. The appellate court has previously dismissed two other writs filed by the man, most recently in January.
Delgado was convicted of two counts of capital murder in 2007 for killing 44-year-old Pharr resident Claudia Zamora and their unborn child.
Delgado has previously argued that trial evidence was insufficient to legally show he intentionally or knowingly killed the unborn child and that the trial court erred in denying his request for a lesser included offense instruction of manslaughter.
Those arguments have been repeatedly rejected by appellate courts.
Delgado killed Zamora and the unborn child on Oct. 1, 2007, after she confronted him for seeing another woman just after midnight that day.
The man was aware Zamora was pregnant when he killed her.
The night before he strangled Zamora, she had followed him to a disco where she saw him leave with another woman, which triggered a fatal chain of events.
“Later, Zamora told her sons she was thinking of leaving appellant. She took them to their father’s house and after visiting with a friend, she met appellant at their apartment shortly after midnight on Monday, the day of the murders,” according to a 13th Court of Appeals ruling.
When police interviewed Delgado, he said he and Zamora argued that night.
“In his statements, appellant admitted he was a ‘woman chaser’ and that shortly before he strangled her, Zamora had confronted him about leaving the disco with the other woman,” the ruling states.
This made Delgado angry and he told police Zamora entered a bathroom during the argument before showing him something “bloody and slimy” and saying “I took it out.”
He also claimed to hear the toilet flush.
Delgado claimed he believed Zamora removed the child from her womb and flushed it down the toilet.
“Appellant said this provoked him to call Zamora ‘a murderer’ and punch her twice and then strangle her,” the ruling stated.
However, investigators and a forensic pathologist found no evidence of a miscarriage or an attempted murder.
After strangling Zamora, authorities say Delgado drank some juice and then dragged Zamora’s body to his car to stage an accident to cover up the murders.
Evidence of this includes drag marks in the dirt outside the apartment and grass and similar debris found on Zamora’s body.
At 3:45 a.m., Edinburg police responded to a one-car accident on Highway 281.
“Traffic was light. Appellant had crashed his car into a hollow, striped plastic barrier, next to an exit ramp. There was only minor front-end damage to appellant’s car. The airbags did not deploy. There were no skid marks on the road, and the only debris at the scene was the front license plate of appellant’s car,” according to the ruling.
Police found Zamora slumped in the front passenger seat and partially on the floor. She wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and had no purse, identification or shoes and her blood was pooling under her skin indicating she had died sometime before the crash.
She also had no external injury or bleeding suggesting injuries from the crash.
“Appellant was found slumped over the steering wheel drooling, but not bleeding or visibly injured. Appellant was wearing his seatbelt. He did not respond to officers, but officers at the scene noticed the car was in ‘park’ when they arrived and found this unusual. The officers concluded it was an intentional auto collision,” the ruling states.
Authorities took Delgado to McAllen Medical Center and admitted him to critical care from the emergency room because he was not responsive.
However, there was no medical explanation for his lack of responsiveness as he had no serious or critical injuries.
An investigator watching him at the hospital and the lead nurse caring for him both suspected he was faking it.
Evidence of this included him becoming combative and aggressive when medical staff inserted a breathing tube into him; him tensing up when someone approached him to take a pubic hair sample; and because he occasionally opened an eye.
After the breathing tube was removed, Delgado agreed to speak to police.
Meanwhile, the autopsy revealed that Zamora had been strangled and died before being placed in the car and that there was no evidence of a miscarriage or attempted abortion.
“The unborn child was normal and healthy, with a healthy placenta and amniotic sac in place,” the ruling states.
The child died because the mother died due to a lack of oxygen, a forensic pathologist found.