Handyman will get life for killing 81-year-old California man

Anthony Thomas Garcia, 63, was found guilty of first-degree murder for the April 11, 2015 killing of Abelardo Lopez Estacion. (Courtesy Orange County District Attorney’s Office)

A Nevada handyman found guilty of strangling an 81-year-old man in the bedroom of a Newport Beach home was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Monday, May 23.

Anthony Thomas Garcia, 63, continued to protest his innocence during his sentencing hearing in a Santa Ana courtroom, just over a year after an Orange County Superior Court jury found him guilty of first-degree murder in the April 11, 2015 murder found by Abelardo Lopez Estacion.

Garcia’s conviction came at the end of his second trial; A previous jury came to no verdict. The second jury found that the murder was not carried out for financial reasons, which had been claimed by prosecutors and could have resulted in a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

On Monday, Garcia told Orange County Superior Court Judge Sheila Hanson that his conviction was a “failure of the justice system.” …

“I was wrongly convicted of a crime I did not commit,” Garcia said. “I am an innocent man. I was always an innocent man.”

Estacion’s murder came amid an ugly dispute over the estate of Dortha Lamb, Estacion’s dying wife, who has since passed away. Garcia is Lamb’s granddaughter’s former boyfriend, and two of Garcia’s daughters are Lamb’s great-granddaughters.

Lamb was a self-made woman who owned valuable real estate in Newport Beach, San Clemente, and Costa Mesa. She was with Estacion for more than 20 years and married him shortly before his death. At the time, Lamb was dying of terminal cancer and suffering from dementia.

Garcia and some of Lamb’s relatives apparently believed Estacion was abusing Lamb and taking advantage of her health problems to siphon money from their accounts. According to testimonies during the trials, Garcia had told others he wanted to kill Estacion.

Lamb’s family took her out of the Newport Beach home she shared with Estacion and went to court to try to evict Estacion from the residence.

A judge delayed a decision on whether to grant an injunction against Estacion. Hours later, someone entered the Newport Beach home, cut the power, and choked, beat, and strangled Estacion.

Prosecutors charged Garcia with driving from Carson City to Newport Beach to kill Estacion, claiming he then immediately drove back to Nevada. They also claimed he left his cell phone with his adult daughter, Samantha Garcia, to make it look like he stayed in Nevada.

Samantha Garcia initially told investigators she had her father’s cellphone on the night of the murder and sent fake text calls between his cellphone and hers. But during both trials, the daughter recanted those earlier claims, claiming detectives pressured her to lie about possession of the phone.

During the trials, Garcia’s attorney, Alisha Montoro, described him as a non-violent, devoted family man who lived a simple life. Defense attorneys dismissed prosecutors’ allegations that Garcia believed his daughter was entitled to Lamb’s money. She said Garcia wasn’t even in California on the night of the murders.

During the sentencing hearing, Clara Sanchez, Garcia’s sister, described him as fun, kind and selfless, adding that he was “generous and error-prone.” She denied that he was ever “a violent or aggressive person”. …

“We are all so proud that he was able to survive in an unfair and biased justice system,” Sanchez told the judge.

Defense attorneys unsuccessfully requested a new trial, alleging, among other things, that some jurors fell asleep during the second trial and that one juror used his own medical experience to claim the death could only have been homicide.

The judge described claims that the jury fell asleep as “not credible” and said the cause-of-death debate appeared to be based on opinions drawn from in-court testimonies, not external evidence

“Nothing I say will make Mr. Garcia or Mr. Garcia’s family feel any better,” Judge Hanson said. “But make no mistake, I would not proceed with the sentencing if, in the court’s view, Mr Garcia was an innocent man.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button