Franklin County's deputy coroners got to know the Garcia family of Pasco after tragedy struck in December 2008.
A father was dead, a mother fighting for her life, and four daughters left to hold their family together because two desperate men opened fire inside the family's living room.
Mavis Williams and Dana Crutchfield worked the case at the Manzanita Lane home and found their interest didn't end when their assignment was done.
They followed news of the family through Maria Ramirez de Garcia's recovery process and countless court hearings for the shooters, but the recent Herald photo and story about the once-active mother struggling in a wheelchair prompted them to action.
Williams and Crutchfield surprised Ramirez de Garcia on Wednesday with a motorized wheelchair. The Jazzy Power Chair was donated through the Knights of Columbus' Hospital Equipment Lend Program.
"I saw her picture in the paper sitting in court in that wheelchair, and I thought, 'Oh, nobody should have to live that way, going through what she did.' We all worked on it together," said Williams, the chief deputy coroner, of Ramirez de Garcia's manual wheelchair.
Williams and Crutchfield approached Ramirez de Garcia's teen daughters Erika and Maricela Garcia Ramirez last week about the gift. The women then made arrangements with the Knights of Columbia of Pasco, after Williams shopped around at stores and inquired with several organizations.
Williams and Crutchfield returned to the Garcia home three years and four months after they were first assigned -- and one day after the second shooter, Jose Garcia-Morales, was convicted by a Franklin County jury.
"It went very well. The family was extremely pleased," said Crutchfield, who used her SUV to deliver the wheelchair.
She said Ramirez de Garcia had "a pretty big smile" when she realized the gift was for her.
"We knew that she was struggling and just wanted to find a way to maybe bring a little bit of ease into her life, make things a little bit easier in light of such tragic circumstances," Crutchfield said. "This will give her a little bit of independence and something to look forward to."
The family declined to be interviewed, citing privacy concerns.
Ramirez de Garcia and husband, Alfredo Garcia, were home the evening of Dec. 10, 2008, when two men came over to talk with Garcia about money they believed they were owed.
The conversation grew heated and Ramon Garcia-Morales shot the couple.
Garcia died from his six gunshot wounds. Ramirez de Garcia was paralyzed after being hit four times.
Garcia-Morales is serving a 67-year, two-month prison sentence for his conviction last June.
The trial for younger brother, Jose, ended Tuesday with guilty verdicts for first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree assault and firearm enhancements for all of the charges. Sentencing is set tentatively for April 17.
The brothers are related to the victims through marriage.
Ramirez de Garcia testified in the trial that sometimes it feels like she is "in a jail" because her freedom is limited by not being able to walk.
She has no memory of what happened after she was shot. But before that night, Ramirez de Garcia told jurors, she and her husband used to come home from working in the fields, cook dinner and then go out with their family.
"I would tell (my husband) I'm not a woman to be in the house or a homemaker. I am a woman to be out in the stores," Ramirez de Garcia said. She laughed and smiled in court at the memory. "Not to buy, just to go out walking around in the stores and just get out."
Williams and Crutchfield hope the motorized chair gives Ramirez de Garcia some mobility so she can enjoy going wherever she wants and doing certain things again.
"It's hard to be able to do something for a family that has suffered such a tragic loss. Anything you do kind of seems minuscule, but surely our thoughts have been with the family, and this was a way that we felt could really benefit Mrs. Garcia, and her daughters as well," Crutchfield said. "Anything we could do to make the burden a little less and foster independence for their mom."
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; firstname.lastname@example.org