Kirby mayoral candidate with sexual assault misdemeanor in another state calls conviction ‘mild’

Sex offender registry laws vary by state, Texas compares it’s laws with those of the state in question

Public records indicate that Chris Garza was arrested and charged with felony sex crimes and burglary in 2014.
Public records indicate that Chris Garza was arrested and charged with felony sex crimes and burglary in 2014.

KIRBY, Texas – Some Kirby residents are wondering how a mayoral candidate with a previous sexual assault conviction in another state can run for office.

Chris Garza is running against Kimberly McGehee-Aldrich.

KSAT obtained documents through open records requests from Larimer County, Colorado, regarding Kirby mayoral candidate Chris Garza.

In 2013, Larimer County Sheriff’s deputies were called to a sexual assault call in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The report says a woman told investigators she was asleep in her hotel room when a man she didn’t know raped her. She said the man smelled of alcohol, and she believed he got through her window, according to the report.

The victim gave deputies a description and identified Garza as the man who raped her, the report states. Investigators detained Garza, and he was released after requesting an attorney.

In 2014, Garza was charged with burglary and four different sexual assault crimes after investigators discovered “Christopher Garza’s prints were among the latents located on the window to the hotel room,” according to the report.

In 2018, Garza was extradited to Colorado on those charges. A trial was set, but Garza pleaded guilty to a lesser crime because of witness unavailability and the inability to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, according to a spokesperson with the Larimer County District Attorney’s Office.

In November 2018, Garza was convicted of an unlawful sexual contact misdemeanor. He was sentenced to a year but only served 34 days due to the time he had already done. He was also ordered to pay more than $2,000 in court costs and was required to register as a sex offender in Colorado.

Since Garza resides in Texas, the out-of-state registry does not apply.

Sex offender registry laws get tricky because each state has different laws and requirements, according to Donna Coltharp, assistant professor of law at St. Mary’s University.

Coltharp, who is not associated with the case, says a Texas Department of Public Safety panel reviews out-of-state cases to determine if the convict will need to register in the state.

“Texas understands that the devil is in the details. Some offenses might not look the same face-to-face, but it might turn out that when you look at each state’s statute, they are approximately the same,” Coltharp said.

A spokesperson for DPS issued the following statement:

“Persons who are determined not to have a duty to register likely fall within a category that either their offense translates to one that currently does not require registration in Texas, does not fall within the category of ‘extra-jurisdictional registrant’ or the violation in the other state resulted in a deferred adjudication disposition.”

Kirby’s city charter does not exclude Garza from running for office.

Garza declined KSAT’S request for an on-camera interview. However, he issued the following statement:

“First off I would like to State that I maintain my Innocence in this case. It needs to be understood that at no time was I ever running from authorities. After many months passing before being charged I was unaware that I had an outstanding warrant. As I have maintained the same Mailing address and Kirby residence I could have easily been contacted. My Job as a Tour Manager had me traveling a lot. I had legally pulled into a weigh station in Pennsylvania as I had done many times since 2014 when I was taken into custody. The month prior to working a hunting show in Pennsylvania, I was in Colorado working a Rodeo without concern for a warrant I did not know I had. What I’ve stated publicly at the February 25th Council Meeting. Some Members of Council have gone through extreme lengths to bring light to Mild convictions and make them though they are greater than what they truly are further singling out residents that threaten the way its always been. You want to do what’s best for this Community? Then those that participated in acquiring, spreading the narrative of a resident that you (this council) will never get rid of in this community no matter how many opportunities you take to ruin my good name. This Council Needs to put a Stop to going after residents they just plain don’t like. Its not your choice who lives here You don’t own this Community and those that were involved should be ashamed for going after ANY resident and should do the noble thing and step down.”

About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Before starting KSAT in 2017, Lee was a photojournalist at KENS 5, where he won a Lone Star Emmy in 2014 for Best Weather Segment. In 2009 and 2010 Lee garnered first-place awards with the Texas Association of Broadcasters for Best Investigative Series in College Station, as well as winning first place for Staff Photojournalism in 2011 at KBTX.