May 12, 2015

Badger Basin murder suspect Sandra Garcia denied bail

A former Clark resident charged in connection with the 2014 murder of her then-boyfriend was denied bail at a Friday appearance in Park County’s Circuit Court.

Sandra Garcia, 27, will continue to be held in the Park County Detention Center pending further proceedings in the case.

Garcia did not object to getting no bail versus what would have likely been an extremely high dollar amount.

Sandra Garcia
“I can’t bail out anyway, so if you guys are going to hold me without bail, that’s fine,” she said.

It was the first local court appearance for Garcia, who’s one of three people facing charges for the January 2014 murder of 30-year-old Juan Antonio Guerra-Torres.

Garcia allegedly called for Guerra-Torres’ killing. Authorities say she told her brother that, if Guerra-Torres wasn’t taken care of, “dangerous people” in Mexico would come kill her family over a substantial debt that Guerra-Torres owed.

Charging documents allege Garcia’s brother — 28-year-old Pedro Garcia Jr. — then hired John L. Marquez to kill Guerra-Torres, with Marquez later shooting him dead and then mutilating his body in Badger Basin.

The charges are based largely on a confession that Pedro Garcia reportedly gave to personnel from the Park County Sheriff’s Office and the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation in March.

“I can’t bail out anyway, so if you guys are going to hold me without bail, that’s fine,” Sandra Garcia said.

Sandra Garcia was arrested in Rincon, Georgia, in March, but it took authorities more than a month to get her back to Park County. She, like her brother, is facing felony charges of conspiring to commit first-degree murder and aiding and abetting first-degree murder. Marquez is charged with first-degree murder and conspiring to commit first-degree murder.

Wyoming law says someone charged with a crime punishable by death — that is, first-degree murder — can be denied bail if “the proof is evident or the presumption great in the case.”

Deputy Park County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Blatt argued Friday that the case against Sandra Garcia meets that criteria.

Blatt said the charges were based on an eyewitness’ account (Pedro Garcia), that Sandra Garcia had “fled to the state of Georgia,” was “dishonest with law enforcement in the early stages of the investigation” and has ties to Mexico.

“... the deceased’s body was mutilated, obviously for the purposes of trying
to avoid the identity of the victim and the prosecution of this matter,” said prosecutor Tim Blatt.

“More importantly, your honor, the deceased’s body was mutilated, obviously for the purposes of trying to avoid the identity of the victim and the prosecution of this matter as well,” Blatt said.

Circuit Court Magistrate Matthew Winslow agreed there was enough evidence to deny bond.
Winslow said Pedro Garcia's statements — as quoted in an affidavit from Park County Sheriff's Investigator Joe Torczon   — were contrary to his own interests and therefore have more veracity.

“I also find that the affidavit supports the conclusion — at least for the purposes of this hearing — that the defendant was dishonest and evasive, further supporting the veracity of these allegations,” Winslow said.

Investigator Torczon’s affidavit says Sandra Garcia initially told law enforcement she had dropped Guerra-Torres off to meet an associate of a man he owed money and never saw him again. However, Garcia told her mother that Guerra-Torres had been arrested and told her father that she'd put Guerra-Torres on a bus to Mexico, Torczon wrote.

She never reported Guerra-Torres as missing.

Sandra Garcia, who’d been working as a Walmart stocker in Georgia, will be represented by a court-appointed attorney. She said in court that she had hired a private lawyer, “but he didn't show up.”

During the hearing, Garcia also pleaded guilty to three unrelated, misdemeanor traffic violations that she committed last May and June.

Winslow ordered her to pay several hundred dollars in court fines and assessments for driving without auto insurance, a seat belt and without a child properly buckled in, but said she doesn't have to start making payments until she's out of jail.

Guerra-Torres had been Sandra Garcia's significant other, but she never reported him as missing.

If convicted of the counts relating to first-degree murder, Garcia, her brother and Marquez would each face a minimum sentence of life in prison.

Pedro Garcia remains jailed in the Park County Detention Center, with bail set at $1 million cash pending a preliminary hearing.

U.S. Marshals are in the process of bringing Marquez back from Bonham, Texas, where he was arrested in March. Park County Sheriff Scott Steward has said he expects Marquez to be here by the end of the week.


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