Jul 31, 2015

Third ‘not guilty’ plea entered in Badger Basin murder case

A former Powell resident charged with murdering and dismembering another man last year formally denied those allegations on Wednesday.

John L. Marquez, 51, has previously called his arrest “ludicrous,” but Wednesday’s arraignment in Park County’s District Court was his first opportunity to officially dispute the charges.

John Marquez
“Not guilty, your honor,” Marquez said, after being asked by District Court Judge Steven Cranfill for his pleas to felony charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

Marquez and two co-defendants, siblings Pedro Garcia Jr., 29, and Sandra Garcia, 27, are each charged in connection with the January 2014 murder of 30-year-old Juan Antonio Guerra-Torres.

The charges are largely based on an account of the crime that Pedro Garcia reportedly gave to investigators earlier this year.

The general allegations are that Sandra Garcia asked Pedro Garcia to find someone to kill Guerra-Torres, her long-time boyfriend. According to Pedro Garcia’s reported account, Sandra Garcia claimed their whole family was in danger because Guerra-Torres had gotten deep into debt with Mexican drug dealers.

Pedro Garcia then allegedly recruited Marquez, a long-time family friend, to kill Guerra-Torres. According to Pedro Garcia’s statements — as recounted by Park County Sheriff’s Investigator Joe Torczon in court filings and testimony — Marquez shot Guerra-Torres at a pullout along Wyo. Highway 294 in Badger Basin on Jan. 5, 2014. Pedro Garcia says Marquez then used something that looked like a hatchet to disfigure the body.

Guerra-Torres’ remains were found by a hunter and his son on Jan. 9, 2014, along a remote dirt road in Badger Basin.

Juan Antonio Guerra-Torres
Both of the Garcias have been charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and aiding and abetting first-degree murder and they both pleaded not guilty at hearings held in late June.

Marquez’s arraignment was unusual in that a metal detector and a sheriff’s deputy were posted outside the courtroom doors, but it was otherwise routine and brief.

If convicted of the current charges related to first-degree murder, all three defendants would face a minimum sentence of life in prison.

Park County Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Skoric could choose to pursue the death penalty for any of the three defendants. Judge Cranfill has given Skoric until late August to make a decision on the Garcias and Skoric said he plans to make a decision on Marquez’s case within 60 days.

Marquez and Sandra Garcia continue to be held without bail at the Park County Detention Center.
Pedro Garcia faces additional felony charges alleging he had children in the vicinity of methamphetamine in May 2014. He continues to be held in jail on cash bonds totaling $1.025 million.

The Garcias have been set for trials on Oct. 22, though it’s common for initial trial dates to be pushed back.

Marquez’s trial has been tentatively set for Dec. 17.


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