State recommends 20 years for attempted murder in Donna

The state has made a plea offer to a 24-year-old Donna man accused of trying to kill his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend in May by burning down the abandoned building where they were sleeping.

The Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office offerred Armando Garza Olivarez 20 years in prison if he pleads guilty to attempted murder and arson. The deal would also require that Olivarez pay $300,000 in restitution on the arson count.

Olivarez indicated during the video conference hearing that he wanted a lower prison recommendation if he accepts a deal.

Donna police arrested Olivarez May 12 after responding to a structure fire at 7 a.m. in the 100 block of South Main Street after reports that a building was engulfed in flames and heavy smoke.

A 23-year-old who was found walking away from the building reported to police that he was sleeping upstairs in the building with his 41-year-old girlfriend when the fire started. He accused Olivarez, who police later found at a bus stop at the city park, according to a probable cause affidavit.

“In the presence of DPD officers stated above, (the man) shouted at (Olivarez), accusing the defendant of starting the fire, telling him, ‘look what you did, you were trying to burn me and my girl,'” the probable cause affidavit states.

In a statement to police, the woman said Olivarez showed up to the building at around 4 a.m. wanting to “smoke.”

When she refused to go downstairs, police say Olivarez began insulting her, according to the charging document.

At 6 a.m., the woman told police she woke up to loud crackling noises and heat from under her mattress and noticed smoke.

“(The woman) later disclosed she was in a prior relationship with (Olivarez),” the probable cause affidavit states.

According to Donna police, Olivarez confessed he used a lighter to start the fire, saying “the voices told him to kill them.”

His defense attorney, Juan A. Tijerina, said during a previous hearing that his client would be seeking a jury trial, records show.

Olivarez remains jailed on $500,000 in bonds.