A Pasco woman confined to a wheelchair since she and her husband were shot multiple times inside their home told jurors Monday that sometimes it feels like she is "in a jail."
Maria Ramirez de Garcia testified that she not only was left to bury her husband after the December 2008 crime, but she also awoke in the hospital to find her freedom limited because she was paralyzed and no longer could walk.
Ramirez de Garcia was shot four times. Her husband, Alfredo Garcia, died from his six gunshot wounds.
Jose Garcia-Morales -- who is related to the victims through marriage -- is accused of going with his older brother to the family's Manzanita Lane home to confront Garcia about money the brothers believed they were owed.
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Ramon Garcia-Morales already has been convicted for his role in the shooting.
Jose Garcia-Morales' trial started Wednesday in Franklin County Superior Court.
The 28-year-old man is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first-degree rendering criminal assistance and two counts of second-degree assault. All of the charges include firearm allegations and the description that Garcia-Morales was either the principal or an accomplice in committing the crimes.
Ramirez de Garcia was pushed into the courtroom by Pasco Detective William Parramore, who stopped her wheelchair in front of the witness stand. She spoke in Spanish through court interpreter Ana Armijo.
Ramirez de Garcia remembers coming out of the shower that night to hear the brothers in her living room "talking very loudly ... with kind of ordering voices." She waited for them to leave but eventually had to come out to find out what they were talking about with her husband.
The brothers were demanding money because they thought Garcia had passed them over for a field job when he gave a list of workers to their supervisor at the onion-packing plant. She said she quickly grabbed the phone and called police after her husband mentioned that Ramon Garcia-Morales had a gun, but she has no memory of what happened after that until she came to in a Seattle hospital.
"You get up and you do everything that you need to do, and I am not able to do that. ... I am at home, but I am not able to go wherever I want to go," Ramirez de Garcia testified when asked about her injuries. "When I was able to go out on my own, I was normally not ever home. My husband and I, we would get home (from work in the fields) and we would cook and we would leave again."
"I would tell him I'm not a woman to be in the house or a homemaker. I am a woman to be out in the stores," she added, laughing and smiling at the memory. "Not to buy, just to go out walking around in the stores and just get out."
The victims' eldest daughter, Jesica Garcia Ramirez, took the stand for 10 minutes to explain the arrangement her father had with the field supervisor. People who called the house saying they needed a job were put on the list, which then was used on a first-come, first-served basis for planting season, she said.
The only benefit Garcia got from helping the farm with this list "was assurance that he was going to be working in the fields," she said.
She choked up when defense lawyer Moe Spencer asked how this crime has affected her. Garcia Ramirez was attending Washington State University in Pullman when her parents were shot and had to move home and take online courses so she could run the household.
Defense attorney Shelley Ajax said her client had a tight-knit, brotherly relationship with Ramon. So when Ramon Garcia-Morales disappeared for a few days and resurfaced with plans to confront Garcia, Jose Garcia-Morales stuck with his older brother because he didn't want him to be alone, given his frame of mind, she said.
Just before going into the home, Garcia-Morales saw his brother had a gun and took it from him so things wouldn't "get out of hand," Ajax said in opening statements. He thought his brother only wanted to talk to Garcia.
After things got heated and Garcia-Morales suddenly heard a "bang bang bang," he turned in shock to find his brother had shot the couple.
"Seven people's lives were affected immediately that day. ... One of those people is Mr. Jose Morales," Ajax said. "What he saw that day, you're going to hear two different stories. Mr. Morales saw a horrible thing that day. He saw his brother shoot two people ... in front of him."
"There were six other people who were horribly affected that day," she added. "This is a very sad, gruesome, horrible thing. It's a horrible day that will forever live in the minds of at least seven people, if not more."
The couple's two teen daughters rushed to the aid of their bleeding parents that night, only to have the gun turned on them and their toddler sister.
Ramon Garcia-Morales asked his brother if he should shoot them, but Ajax said her client responded, "No. Stop."
Out of bullets, Ramon Garcia-Morales then grabbed the second loaded gun from his brother's pocket and "finishes Alfredo off, over and over and over again. He kills him," Ajax told jurors. He didn't shoot any of the sisters.
If it weren't for Jose Garcia-Morales, those three girls would not be alive today to care for their mother or see their older sister who was away at college, Ajax added.
"This man saved the lives of those girls," she said, touching the back of her client who was slumped over in his chair.
However, Special Prosecutor Amy Harris explained to jurors in her opening statements that the brothers are equally guilty because they both were armed with handguns when they went into the house to demand money.
"These two brothers worked together to commit these crimes," Harris said, as Garcia-Morales sat up in his chair and looked over at the jury. "They fled the state together, they ditched the guns together and they were found in Idaho together" the next day.
Harris said jurors will hear testimony from Pasco detectives that Jose Garcia-Morales admitted discussing killing Garcia with his brother before going to the house, and when Ramon Garcia-Morales ran out of ammunition, his younger brother gave him the gun so he could continue to shoot the father.
"Ladies and gentleman, we are going to explain why the defendant is guilty of these charges and we will ask that you find him guilty," she said.
Earlier Monday, Ajax asked to end the proceedings and move it to another county.
"The major concern here is that we don't feel that we can get a fair trial here in Franklin County," she said. "We don't think it's possible. We're asking for a change of venue."
Ajax said that answers given by prospective jurors on lengthy questionnaires made it clear "almost all knew about the case from the media." She suggested Spokane County as an alternate location.
Special Prosecutor Terry Bloor objected to the motion.
Judge Carrie Runge denied Ajax's request, pointing out that both sides had the opportunity to individually question the entire jury pool before selecting the final panel Friday.
The trial resumes this morning in the Franklin County Courthouse.
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; email@example.com