Convicted killer Jose Garcia-Morales never testified at his trial, but Wednesday he insisted that he did nothing wrong and denied handing a gun to his brother in the 2008 shooting of a Pasco couple.
Garcia-Morales, 28, never spoke directly to the judge during the two-hour hearing but repeatedly interrupted the proceedings with howls and outbursts in Spanish.
He was placed in an adjacent media room for about a half-hour while prosecutors read letters from the victims, then was returned to the courtroom so Judge Carrie Runge could order a 75 1/2-year prison sentence.
"Who did I do something to?" Garcia-Morales asked early in the hearing. "Well, if that is going to trial, then I am just going to be screwed here. ... I didn't do anything to anybody. If you're just playing around, well then."
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Earlier this month, a Franklin County Superior Court jury took an hour and 17 minutes to convict Garcia-Morales of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree assault. All of the charges include firearm enhancements.
Garcia-Morales often sat slumped over in his chair with his ears covered during the trial, and pulled out his earbuds so he couldn't listen to a court interpreter.
On Wednesday, defense lawyer Shelley Ajax said her client was "speaking gibberish" in court and renewed requests for another mental health evaluation. Ajax also asked to delay the sentencing, saying she has been ill the past two weeks since the trial ended and needed more time to review a recent court decision that could affect her client's sentence.
Runge opted to go forward because the victims were in court.
Garcia-Morales and his older brother, Ramon, went to a Pasco home on Dec. 10, 2008, and confronted Alfredo Garcia about money the brothers believed they were owed after being passed over for work in the onion fields.
Each brother was carrying a gun when they went into the house, and Ramon Garcia-Morales ended up shooting Garcia six times and wife Maria Ramirez de Garcia four times. Three of the couple's four daughters were home at the time and saw the brothers -- who are related to the family through marriage -- shoot their father.
Garcia died from his wounds, while Ramirez de Garcia was paralyzed.
The eldest daughter, Jesica Garcia Delaya, now lives with her husband in Venezuela, but wrote a six-page letter talking about the crime's lasting effect on her family. She was away at college when her parents were shot, but shared that her mother's condition is slowly improving and her two teen sisters are learning to cope with their anxiety attacks.
"My father will always be remembered as the man who would laugh at simple jokes and who would tear whenever something good happened to one of his daughters or to himself. He was never afraid of letting everyone know how proud he was of even the smallest achievements," she wrote. "He loved reflecting on the past and setting up goals for the future and as his daughter that was one of the legacies he left me. When he passed away, his desire for a better future was what pushed me through these years without him."
Her letter further stated that "as a family we know that nothing we do today will bring Alfredo back, but we will feel comfort in knowing that those who separated him from us can no longer hurt us."
Garcia-Morales often spoke while Special Prosecutor Terry Bloor was reading the letters and giving his sentencing recommendation.
Corrections officers eventually moved him into the empty media room with a window overlooking the courtroom and an audio system.
Corrections officials said that never has been done before in Franklin court.
Back in the courtroom a half-hour later, he was given the opportunity to speak on his behalf before being sentenced. He remained silent.
However, once Runge started to give her sentence, he said, "I don't know because I'm going to lose everything and I'm not giving anything because I'm going to lose everything."
Runge said she listened intently to letters written by Ramirez de Garcia and her three older daughters.
"Quite frankly, I don't think there is anything more that this court can say," she said. "The letters express in great detail how their lives have been impacted by the crimes that you committed against them individually, as well as their family and of course against the husband -- their father, their best friend, their head of family, their playmate, their cook, the organizer, the one that cheered the family on, the one that protected them. In short, the one that held this family together, was essentially the glue for this family."
"While, sir, you might not have been the shooter, the jury clearly found that you were equally culpable as an accomplice to this crime," she added.
When Runge noted that evidence showed Garcia-Morales handed a gun to his brother to continue shooting the father, Garcia-Morales shouted: "Ask him where he got it from. I didn't give him anything. ... Ask him who sold it to him. Why would I give it to him?"
Minutes later, when Runge was announcing the time he must do for each firearm enhancement, Garcia-Morales said, "Here in the U.S. I have never used a firearm. I have never used any firearm here. I have never even used one. ... I don't have a firearm and I haven't given anybody a firearm, so I don't have anything."
Garcia-Morales interrupted the judge as she stated each sentence for his convictions, asking if it was another "fine" for him or the judge.
"Let's go. Let's hurry up," Garcia-Morales later said, repeatedly referring to going back to Mexico, a "beautiful cemetery" and a "little casket" that is just waiting for him.
Runge replied, "I will hurry but I do need to advise you of these important rights."
Defense lawyers filed a notice of Garcia-Morales' intent to appeal the conviction and requested that he be appointed counsel since he is indigent.
Prosecutors later told the Herald they intended for Garcia-Morales to receive a 66-year sentence, comparable to the 67-year prison term his brother is serving.
However, in court Runge told Garcia-Morales that his "actual number of months of total confinement" is 906.5 months, or 751/2 years. She signed two court documents with the same sentence, including one directing the state Department of Corrections to lock up Garcia-Morales for the longer time.
That would mean he is serving his sentences consecutively for each of the convictions and the enhancements. He was given credit for spending 1,214 days in jail while the case was pending.
Whether 66 years or 751/2, defense lawyers noted that their client likely will die in prison.
Restitution has not been determined, but Garcia-Morales was told he must pay $122,248 in court costs. That includes witness fees -- like $4,707 to Dr. Daniel Selove, who did the autopsy and explained his findings to jurors, and $3,266 in travel costs to bring the victims' eldest daughter from Venezuela to testify -- and $111,341 in Office of Public Defense costs.
After the hearing, Bloor said he was very disappointed in Garcia-Morales' behavior, self-centeredness and "the little remorse he has for his role in the murder of a fine gentleman and the crippling of a wonderful woman."
"He hasn't behaved like this. It's behavior that he has control of. He chose to act up this way, and he chose not to in other pretrial hearings," Bloor said of his lengthy outbursts during sentencing. "This is behavior that he is choosing to do."
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; firstname.lastname@example.org