May 19, 2015

Murder suspect calls case against him ‘ludicrous;’ held without bail


A man charged with last year’s murder in Badger Basin says the case against him is “hearsay from a meth-head.”

John L. Marquez, 51, attacked the allegations against him — and specifically the credibility of co-defendant Pedro Garcia Jr. — during his first Park County court appearance on Friday morning in Cody.

John Marquez is led into the courthouse by Park County detention deputies. Photo by CJ Baker
Marquez is charged with first-degree murder and conspiring to commit first-degree murder in connection with the January 2014 killing of Juan Antonio Guerra-Torres. Marquez also is alleged to have decapitated and mutilated Guerra-Torres’ body after the killing.

The allegations against Marquez contained in court documents are based largely on Pedro Garcia, who told authorities that, acting on a request from his sister, Sandra Garcia, he hired Marquez to kill Guerra-Torres.

Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters ordered Marquez to be held without bail pending further proceedings, while Marquez questioned why Waters signed off on the charges against him.

“I don’t understand how a judge can sign a warrant from a hearsay statement from a drug addict, from a meth-head,” Marquez said during Friday’s hearing, referring to Pedro Garcia. “He’s a known meth-head and he got busted with meth, and now just because he says, ‘Oh, this guy was there and this guy did this,’ a judge signs a warrant.”

Marquez said he was doing well, working seven days a week and not bothering anyone when he was arrested on the charges in March in Bonham, Texas. He called it “ludicrous” and “crazy” that a judge approved the charges.

“He’s a known meth-head and he got busted with meth, and now just because he says, ‘Oh, this guy was there and this guy did this,’ a judge signs a warrant,” Marquez said.

When Judge Waters began explaining the warrant he signed, Marquez interrupted several times.

“The warrant was signed based upon affidavit of a ...,” Waters started.

“Of hearsay,” Marquez interjected.

“... of a police officer who investigated the offense — a deputy sheriff in this particular case,” Waters continued. “So it was actually the deputy sheriff who signed off on the affidavit of probable cause.”

“Probable cause from hearsay from a meth-head,” Marquez jumped in.

“Whether or not that’s true or not, I can’t tell you,” the judge said.

“It’s not true,” said Marquez.

“But that’s a question that’s more appropriately forwarded to your attorney. So I’ll let you discuss that with your attorney,” Waters finished.

Marquez will be represented by a court-appointed public defender.

Deputy Park County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Blatt recommended that Marquez be held without bail.

Blatt said there’s an eyewitness to the allegations (Pedro Garcia) and that Marquez has faced past criminal allegations “in Wyoming, in Texas, Nevada, Colorado, Washington and Idaho.”

Marquez didn’t object to being held without bail.

The prosecution recommended that Marquez be held without bail and he didn't object.

Sandra Garcia, charged with conspiring to commit first-degree murder and aiding and abetting first-degree murder, has also been denied bail.

Pedro Garcia, facing the same charges as his sister, must post $1 million in cash if he wants to be released while the case is pending.

According to an affidavit from Park County Sheriff’s Investigator Joe Torczon, Pedro Garcia told authorities in March that Sandra Garcia asked him to find someone to “take out” Guerra-Torres because he’d become deeply indebted to “dangerous people in Mexico.” Sandra Garcia was in a long-term relationship with Guerra-Torres at the time — having had four children with him — and said the people from Mexico were going to kill their whole family, Pedro Garcia reportedly recounted to Torczon.

Pedro Garcia said Marquez agreed to do the deed while the two smoked meth in his Powell garage, Torczon wrote.

Sandra Garcia allegedly asked Pedro Garcia to find someone to 'take out' Guerra-Torres. Pedro Garcia allegedly got John Marquez to agree to kill the man. 

Pedro Garcia said he initially paid Marquez $700 and three grams of meth for killing Guerra-Torres, then later wired him $400 in three separate transactions. Authorities had watched Pedro Garcia wire $100 to Marquez a week after Guerra-Torres’ mutilated body was found along a remote Badger Basin road, Torczon wrote.

Pedro and Sandra Garcia each are scheduled for preliminary hearings on June 3. That’s when a judge will weigh whether there’s enough evidence for their charges to proceed toward a trial.

A preliminary hearing for Marquez was tentatively scheduled for Friday, but it will likely be pushed back.

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