By Darling Gonzalez
RIVERSIDE, CA – The double homicide sentencing of Daniel Garcia in Riverside County Superior Court Hall of Justice Friday led to some emotional statements from the victims’ families, and an apology by Garcia.
During the sentencing, many family members of Gabriela (Gabby) Perez, 21, and Miranda Duran, 20, spoke out about the tragic deaths of their loved ones.
Donna Carper, a victim services advocate, began by reading a letter written by Perez’s sister because she said she would not be able to get through the entire letter herself.
In the letter, Perez’s sister spoke about the emotions that went through her mind on May 2, 2018, the day her sister was murdered, noting the way she initially found out about her sister’s death was through a Facebook post saying “Rest in Peace Gabby and Miranda.”
“My heart was broken that morning. I’d never felt the way I’d experience pain that morning…I collapsed to the ground and felt the world coming to a stop. My husband grabbed my eight month old at the time and tried his best to bring me some comfort,” Perez’s sister said.
When the police asked her about any particular tattoos Gabby had, she told the officer about her tattoos and then recalled that they had previously planned on getting matching tattoos together.
The letter then explained, “I became pregnant again just months after losing Gabby. That November I ended up miscarrying. I always assumed the grief was too much for my new baby to handle.”
Perez’s sister later sought help after the trauma and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“My life now looks nothing like it did before my sister’s life was taken. I was very outgoing. I had many pictures taken on many road trips. I now am forever changed and part of me was taken and there is no amount of justice that can change what happened,” Perez’s sister stated.
Another sister of Perez stated, “I think about her two babies and how they have to grow up not only without a mother but with little, if any memories of her and I think that’s one of the parts that breaks my heart the most.”
Miranda’s grandmother expressed her emotions of her granddaughter’s death by describing the difficult process of living without her and the heartbreaking effects on her children.
“She’ll never be there for their first day of school, for their first dance, to see them walk down the aisle. The simplest pleasures have been denied to (the children). And every day when I think of that, that is what breaks my heart the most,” she said.
Gabriela Perez’s oldest brother also spoke about the grand loss in his family after her murder in 2018 and asked the judge not to grant the possibility of parole to Garcia.
“I just want to ask the judge for one more level of comfort for myself, for Miranda’s family and ask that you give no parole and let us at least know that this person will never be able to come out and harm anybody else,” Garcia stated.
Later, Daniel Garcia’s mother apologized to the families that had been affected by the actions of her son.
“I don’t know what happened that night. My son is not the person, the monster, that they said he is. When he was a kid, he was a good person, a very good person…he was a very good father… I don’t know what happened. I don’t understand. I don’t understand. I would like to apologize…and ask for compassion,” Garcia expressed.
Lastly, Daniel Garcia spoke and expressed his remorse.
“I just want to say to the families of Miranda and Gabby that I’m truly sorry for all the pain and grief they’re going through. It’s hard to see how much they love and cherish Miranda and Gabby and how hard this has been for them. I just pray that one day God will give them the strength to forgive me and I just want to say I’m sorry,” Garcia stated.
Judge Bernard Schwartz ended the sentencing by stating how this particular case was completely “not just tragic but unnecessary.”
Judge Schwartz clarified that with the evidence provided in the case the crime was not an instantaneous thought process for Garcia, but rather a delayed one over time, explaining how Garcia purchased a gun, waited to get the gun, took the gun to meet with both victims, and with no evidence of fight or struggle he “executed” them on the backside of the vehicle.
“While I cannot bring back the victims in this case in the sentence that I pronounce, I can ensure that Mr. Garcia does not do this or harm anyone else for the rest of his life. That sentence certainly will be imposed on this case,” Judge Schwartz stated.
Judge Schwartz, then, sentenced Garcia to life in prison without the possibility of parole and an additional 50 years to life.
A total amount of $14,000 would also be paid to the next of kin for the funeral costs for both victims’ families by the California Victim Compensation Board.