By Sophia Barberini
SACRAMENTO, CA – After a family member of the victim told defendant Nicolaus Garcia “you will always have blood on your hands,” Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Trena H. Burger-Plavan Friday denied four motions filed by his defense and sent Garcia away to prison for 51 years to life for first degree murder.
The defendant, along with two other codefendants, were involved in a traffic accident. Assumed to be angry about the damage done to their car, the defendants later found the passenger of the other car several blocks away at an apartment complex, and then shot and killed him.
Before imposing her sentence, Judge Burger-Plavan went through the five separate motions filed by defense attorney Joseph Farina.
The defendant was arrested with two codefendants, one a juvenile, and the other, his ex-girlfriend, Felicia Bauman.
The murder was witnessed by a woman who “specifically said that and told the police that Ms. Bauman was the shooter.”
Because of this, Farina argued that it could not have been Garcia that shot the gun, as the only witness identified a female as the shooter.
Further, attorney Farina argued, the witness told the police that the shooter was wearing a “baby blue and white baseball cap,” that “was never recovered as evidence.”
The only evidence presented to the jury, attorney Farina contended, was codefendant Bauman’s, testimony which “unsurprisingly identified Mr. Garcia as the shooter.
“Her self-serving statement exonerated herself and instead painted Mr. Garcia as the shooter,” added Farina, who added that apart from the codefendant’s testimony, “there was really no credible evidence for the jury to consider… the testimony of codefendant Bauman was insufficient in itself to sustain a conviction.”
Farina. did concede that the gun, which was eventually recovered, did belong to the defendant’s ex-girlfriend and the defendant did eventually reveal the location of the weapon. He also acknowledged some troubling things said by Garcia to the juvenile codefendant in the interrogation room.
While in a videotaped interrogation room, the defendant was heard telling his codefendant, “Hey, don’t say anything. They don’t have any evidence.”
Deputy District Attorney Omar Singh disagreed, arguing that the jury was provided the information they required to make a conviction.
“The jury, having received the law, the rules, what they should apply to the set of facts… they came to the conviction of first degree murder” said DDA Singh, adding that the defendant could have been mistaken for a woman, given his height and hair length.
“I am not in any way denigrating him… somebody could easily, in the quick timespan that they saw him and the anxiety of the situation, maybe have mistaken him for a female, solely based on his height stature, and his hairstyle,” alleged DDA Singh.
Further, he argued, “Every single fact, aside from [the witness], points to the fact that Mr. Garcia was the shooter. He is the only person that has motive. It is his vehicle. He is the only person that has access to the firearm… He is the only person that, at every instance he was asked what was going on, lied.”
Taking their arguments into consideration, Judge Burger-Plavan found “that the evidence presented at trial is sufficient to prove each of the required elements beyond a reasonable doubt,” and denied the defense motion for a new trial and moved to hear on the defense’s motion to reduce the charges to second degree murder.
Defense attorney Farina rested his argument on the lack of relationship between the defendants and the victim. He argued that “there is no indication of premeditation or deliberation as far as we know.”
Further, he claimed, “There is no evidence whatsoever that Mr. Garcia, nor Ms. Bauman, nor [the other codefendant] had ever seen or even met [the victim]. As far as we know, the only interaction was a very brief interaction at the accident scene.”
The evidence does not demonstrate any premeditation, according to Farina. Instead, he argues, “[W]hat the evidence does support is that Felicia Bauman did the shooting, and any evidence otherwise is completely circumstantial.”
DDA Singh refuted that argument, claiming that any time a person is armed with a gun, that person is “readying themselves…to use deadly force.”
Because the defendant was in possession of a firearm, DDA Singh argued he was ready to use it and, therefore, the murder was “premeditated, willful and deliberate first degree murder.”
Opposing DDA Singh’s argument, Attorney Farina asserted “there is no way anybody could have possibly known that [the victim] would show up at an apartment complex blocks away from where the initial incident happened,” insisting there could not be any premeditation involved in the crime.
Judge Burger-Plavan, considering the arguments, asserted that hours after the traffic incident, “Mr. Garcia still harbored that intent to kill and when he came in contact with the victim again, he acted on that intent.”
“The evidence showed that the decision to kill was not made rashly or impulsively,” denying the motion to reduce the conviction to second degree murder.
Defense Attorney Farina also filed motions to strike a prior conviction and to strike a firearms enhancement, attempting to alleviate the prison time the defendant was facing.
Judge Burger-Plavan also denied these motions, claiming that the defendant’s acts demonstrated “great violence,” and showed “a high degree of viciousness, cruelness, and callousness,” over something “that is so small, that is hard to imagine anyone would be willing to kill for it.”
In his final motion filed, defense attorney Farina asked the court to strike a five-year sentence enhancement. And, taking into consideration the defendant’s traumatizing childhood, Judge Burger-Plavan granted this motion, finding that “the addition of another five years of punishment is not in the interest of justice.”
Addressing the defendant directly, the family member tearfully asserted, “Mr. Garcia, we want to know why. We want to know how you can hunt and kill a man in cold blood. You are a murderer, and you will always have blood on your hands,” she declared.
Judge Burger-Plavan stated “Mr. Garcia has engaged in violent conduct which indicates a serious danger to society,” and sentenced the defendant to 25 years to life in state prison.
Because of his prior convictions, the defendant’s sentence was doubled and an additional one year was added, resulting in a 51 years to life prison sentence.
After hearing this, the defendant’s mother, watching via YouTube, commented on the ruling, “My son didn’t do this, I really don’t think he should get this much time.”
Sophia Barberini, from San Mateo, CA, is a fourth-year student at UC Berkeley. She is double majoring in Political Science and Legal Studies and hopes to pursue a career in law.
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