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Former priest pleads not guilty in Irene Garza murder case, bond set at $1 million

Nearly 56 years after the murder of McAllen beauty queen Irene Garza, former Priest John Feit -- the man long suspected of killing her -- pleaded not guilty. (CBS 4 News)

Nearly 56 years after the murder of McAllen beauty queen Irene Garza, former Priest John Feit -- the man long suspected of killing her -- pleaded not guilty.

John Bernard Feit, 83, of Scottsdale, Arizona, appeared before 92nd state District Judge Luis Singleterry on Monday morning.

"Not guilty your honor," Feit told the judge, when asked how he pleaded.

> Watch the 48 Hours story about Irene Garza's murder and the case against John Feit.

> Read the Texas Monthly investigation of the Irene Garza murder case.

Prosecutors requested a $750,000 cash/surety bond. Feit's attorney's requested a $100,000 bond.

"There isn't any reason to suspect Mr. Feit is a risk of flight," Feit's attorney said during the hearing, explaining that Feit has Stage 3 kidney disease and bladder cancer.

Singleterry, though, set bond at $1 million -- 25 percent higher than prosecutors requested.

Garza's cousin, Lynda De La Vina, called the charge against Feit a miracle.

"This man -- in my opinion -- murdered my cousin," De La Vina said. "And so because he's old, he shouldn't be brought to justice? I don't believe that at all."

Feit's attorney, O. Rene Flores, declined to comment Monday.

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