Crime

Man who shot Pasco husband, wife given 67 years

PASCO — Ramon Garcia-Morales was a young boy growing up in Mexico when he was stung by a scorpion.

He might not have survived if it weren't for the quick actions of Maria Ramirez de Garcia, a resident of the same village.

But more than two decades later, Ramirez de Garcia questions how she could have saved his life only to be paid back later with a barrage of bullets that left her paralyzed and killed the father of her four daughters.

On Tuesday, the family told a Franklin County judge how the 2008 crime shattered their lives and forced them into a new reality with excruciating pain and insecurity.

Judge Vic VanderSchoor agreed with the victims that Garcia-Morales deserved the maximum sentence possible, and ordered him to spend 67 years and two months in prison.

Garcia-Morales, 31, showed no reaction during the hour-long hearing in Franklin County Superior Court. His lawyers pointed out at the start of the hearing that he had urinated in his seat.

Kevin Holt said this means his client will be 96 when released, but doubts Garcia-Morales will survive in prison given his inability to talk or care for his most basic needs.

He had recommended a 54-year, five-month term at the bottom of the standard range, saying nothing can be done to return Alfredo Garcia to his family "but there does come a time when people need to accept the fact the way things are and move on with their lives."

Holt again requested a competency evaluation but VanderSchoor denied the motion, noting the defendant already had four, the most recent just before trial.

Garcia-Morales was convicted June 8 of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree assault and four firearm charges.

It took jurors less than two hours to reach the verdict after listening to a week's worth of testimony.

On Tuesday, the focus turned back to the victims of the Dec. 10, 2008, shooting at 505 Manzanita Lane.

Garcia-Morales and his younger brother, Jose, had stopped by to talk about a missed work opportunity and demand money.

Garcia, 42, died after being shot six times.

Ramirez de Garcia, his wife, was hit four times and remains confined to a wheelchair. She is paralyzed from the waist down and has limited vision in her right eye.

A gun also was pointed at teen daughters Erika and Maricela Garcia Ramirez.

Kimberly, a toddler, had been with their father in the living room while he talked to the brothers, but ran to her sisters after the first shots were fired.

And oldest daughter, Jesica, was a freshman at Washington State University in Pullman but came home to care for her family and assume the duties her mother no longer could do.

Ramirez de Garcia was in court along with Erika and Maricela. Letters they wrote for the judge were read by special prosecutors Terry Bloor and Amy Harris.

Ramirez de Garcia talked about how her husband loved to cook and encouraged his daughters to do well in school and value education so they could get ahead in life.

"Alfredo was a respectable man that was loved by his family. He would give his brothers good advice and set a good example for them," she wrote. "When we got the keys to our new home, he was so happy and overcome with emotion. It was like we were building a castle, and they (the shooters) threw it to the ground. Our happiness of a new home did not last long."

The Garcias had built a four-bedroom home in the east Pasco neighborhood with help from Habitat for Humanity and moved in just nine months before it became the scene of a crime.

Ramirez de Garcia said she used to enjoy taking trips, going to the river or visiting family and friends near and far, but now it is more difficult and she gets embarrassed because of the wheelchair. She also said she feels bad because she no longer can provide support for her daughters or even take the near-4-year-old Kimberly out to play, and must rely on them to get around or even move in her bed at night.

The family said Kimberly repeatedly asks when her daddy is coming home, and when they go to visit him at the cemetery, she questions why she can't actually see him.

Maricela, 16, wrote that she has "the most gruesome dreams" at night and wakes up sweating and out of breath. She fears the killers will come back to hurt her.

"I live haunted with images of my father being shot. Images that will never disappear from my mind," she wrote. "I will forever live with the image of my father looking at my mother with such sad eyes. Knowing that he couldn't do anything to help her most likely broke his heart."

Erika, who turns 18 in two weeks, said before the shooting, "I was an innocent child that thought that life was easy and boring."

Now she struggles to keep up with her workload, at home and at Chiawana High School where she takes Advanced Placement classes, all while still trying to deal with her own feelings and grief. Unlike others around her, she doesn't look forward to graduating next June because her dad, the one person she wants watching, won't be there with tears in his eyes and a big strong hug for her.

Erika recalled seeing her mother in a Seattle hospital the day after she was shot, how her face was unrecognizable and she had a tough time just looking at her. But she said even though it is not the same at home and she may lose sleep helping at night, she would do anything for her mother.

"She is a strong and wonderful woman, and she is my role model, even if she is no longer able to have the freedom she used to have," Erika wrote, also touching on the lasting traumatization of the shooting and its effect on her family's happiness.

"The crime committed by Ramon Garcia-Morales took away my smile, he took away the most important things from me. I am supposed to be a teenager, yet it has turned me into a person that is wise beyond my years," she said. "... I am always hyper aware of my surroundings even if I am at home -- isn't home supposed to feel safe? Well, for me, it is at times the most unsafe place I can be at."

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