Mar 27, 2015

Three people charged in Badger Basin homicide

Charges were filed Thursday against three suspects in connection with the murder of Juan Antonio Guerra-Torres, whose decapitated body was found on Jan. 9, 2014, on Little Sand Coulee Road in Badger Basin.

The Park County Sheriff's Office said all three were in custody for alleged roles in Guerra-Torres's murder: John Louis Marquez, 51, Sandra Garcia, 27  a former Powell resident who was reportedly Guerra-Torres' girlfriend at the time of his murder and the mother of his children  and Pedro Garcia Jr., a 28-year-old former Powell resident and Sandra Garcia's brother.

Juan Antonio Guerra-Torres
Charging documents allege that, after being arrested in Georgia, Pedro Garcia said he'd directed and paid Marquez to kill Guerra-Torres and helped move his body. Pedro Garcia allegedly said he'd done so at the request of Sandra Garcia, who'd said Guerra-Torres had become deeply indebted to dangerous "people in Mexico."

Sandra Garcia refused to speak to law enforcement officers after her arrest this week, but has previously said she dropped Guerra-Torres at a spot near Cody for a meeting with someone nicknamed "Crocodile" and never saw him again, according to an affidavit filed in support of the charges by Park County Sheriff's Investigator Joe Torczon.

Marquez was arrested in Bonham, Texas by members of the Texas Department of Public Safety, and Texas Rangers, Sheriff Scott Steward said in a Friday news release. Marquez was still being held in Texas on Friday.

Sandra Garcia was taken into custody in Effingham County, Ga., by investigators from the Park County Sheriff’s Office, Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia Bureau of Investigations and the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, Steward said.

She remained in custody in Georgia on Friday. Pedro Garcia was also arrested in Effingham County, Ga. and waived extradition back to Wyoming on unrelated charges of allowing children to be in a dwelling or room where methamphetamine was being stored, Steward said.

Marquez is charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree and murder in the first degree in connection with Guerra-Torres' murder, while Sandra Garcia and Pedro Garcia, Jr. are each charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree and aiding and abetting murder in the first degree.

Pedro Garcia Jr. said a meeting was set up were Sandra Garcia could explain to Marquez "how she needed proof that Guerra-Torres was dead to show the people in Mexico," charging documents say.

A Cody hunter and his son discovered Guerra-Torres' mutilated body along the remote dirt road informally known as Little Sand Coulee Road, about a mile and a half west of Wyo. Highway 294. The body was missing the head and left arm, among other damage.

Authorities working the case — chiefly the sheriff’s office and the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation — had determined the man was shot to death and, using methods that haven't been disclosed, identified him as the 30-year-old Guerra-Torres.

While there was public speculation that Guerra-Torres’ murder was done by a foreign drug cartel, Sheriff Steward said earlier this year that he didn’t believe that was the case.

Sandra Garcia had been identified as a person of interest in the homicide last year.

Pedro Garcia reportedly told Torczon, in interviews conducted over the course of two days this week, that Sandra Garcia, had asked for help in "taking care of" Guerra-Torres.

According to Torczon's recounting of the interviews contained in charging documents, Pedro Garcia said his sister told him Guerra-Torres owed $30,000 to $40,000 to people in Mexico and that those people were going to come kill her and her entire family.

Pedro Garcia said he had initially declined to help, but agreed after learning the family might be in danger, Torczon wrote. Pedro Garcia then approached Marquez about "taking out" Guerra-Torres and Marquez agreed, Torczon wrote of Garcia's account.

Pedro Garcia said he'd paid Marquez around $700 in cash and a few grams of methamphetamine that had been on Guerra-Torres' body, later paying Marquez a few hundred dollars more, charging documents allege.

Pedro Garcia Jr. said a meeting was set up were Sandra Garcia could explain to Marquez "how she needed proof that Guerra-Torres was dead to show the people in Mexico," Torczon recounted in the affidavit.

Ultimately, a meeting was reportedly set up between Guerra-Torres and Marquez, under the auspices of conducting a drug deal, Torczon said of what he was told by Pedro Garcia.

According to Pedro Garcia's reported account, he and Marquez met up with Guerra-Torres and Sandra Garcia near the Badger Basin Highway. As Marquez got out of Pedro Garcia's pick-up truck, Pedro Garcia said he heard three or four shots and Guerra-Torres dropped to the ground, the affidavit says. Pedro Garcia said Sandra Garcia then left and he helped Marquez load Guerra-Torres' body into the pick-up truck, Torczon wrote.

Pedro Garcia said he then led Marquez to the remote spot where Guerra-Torres' body was later found and Marquez dismembered the body with an ax, the charging affidavit alleges. Pedro Garcia described paying Marquez with around $700 in cash and a few grams of methamphetamine that had been on Guerra-Torres' body, Torczon said of what he was told, and later paid Marquez a few hundred dollars more.

Sandra Garcia refused to speak to law enforcement after being picked up in Georgia, but previously said she'd dropped off Guerra-Torres at a spot near Cody on Jan. 5 and never saw him again, Torczon wrote. Sandra Garcia reportedly said in the earlier interview that Guerra-Torres had planned to meet a guy nicknamed "Crocodile," who worked for a man named "Don Cheto," who Guerra-Torres owed money, the affidavit says.

However, investigator Torczon said Sandra Garcia had given different stories to her family — telling her mother that Guerra-Torres had been arrested and telling her father that she'd put Guerra-Torres on a bus to Mexico. Torczon also said Sandra Garcia, who never reported Guerra-Torres as missing, described him as having been an abusive boyfriend.

Steward stated in Friday's release that the investigation is continuing and all suspects are presumed to be innocent until proven otherwise.

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