Another longer article.
Dec. 8, 2004
Murder suspect will go to trial
By Kara D. Machado
HANFORD - Friends and family of a murdered man filled a courtroom Tuesday and watched as the suspected killer was bound over for trial.
A handcuffed Jimmy Earl Wilson Jr., 32, of Hanford, wearing a red-and-pink Kings County Jail jumpsuit, sat beside his attorney and listened intently to the testimony of two investigators during his preliminary hearing.
Three women, whom Wilson told he loved as he left the courtroom, sat in rows behind him during the proceedings.
After listening to testimony during the preliminary hearing, a judge found there was sufficient evidence to send Wilson to trial for murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon likely to cause great bodily injury.
The murder charge stems from the discovery of the body of Jason Garcia, 29, in his Hanford home on the evening of Oct. 4. Alone with Garcia's body was the victim's 3-year-old son.
The assault charges are derived from an incident, just prior to the murder, involving a man who was holding his 4-year-old daughter when Wilson allegedly threatened and swung at him with an item believed to be a knife.
The Kings County District Attorney's Office filed an amended complaint, asking for an alternate charge of attempted murder regarding the incident with the man and his 4-year-old. However, the judge at Tuesday's proceedings did not feel there was sufficient evidence to bind Wilson over for trial on that charge.
Wilson, according to his preliminary hearing attorney, Laurence E. Meyer, is denying the charges against him.
"The defendant states he is innocent because this is his best friend," Meyer said.
Hanford Police Investigator Daren Matteson testified that it was Sunday, Oct. 3, at 5:50 p.m. when he was dispatched to a residence located in the 1000 block of Kaweah Street for a homicide.
When he arrived, he was shown into the house by officers. In the house, he saw Garcia lying on his back on the living room floor, unclothed from the waist up, with what appeared to be numerous stab wounds to his upper body.
Matteson testified he was present at the autopsy when the forensic pathologist determined Garcia bleed to death. The time of death , Matteson testified, was determined to be at around 11 p.m. on Oct. 2.
"I believe (Garcia) had 20 stab wounds to his upper body, Matteson testified.
During Matteson's investigation, it was discovered that Wilson was with Garcia in the days prior to the murder, as well as the day of the crime.
According to a witness, Matteson testified, Wilson had threatened Garcia with two knives on the morning of the murder.
Garcia and the witness were sitting on Garcia's back porch when Wilson allegedly drove his vehicle to the back. Wilson then allegedly took out two large butcher knives, Matteson testified, threw them at Garcia's feet and said, "pick your weapon."
Allegedly, Wilson was angry at Garcia, suspecting Garcia had slept with his girlfriend, Matteson testified.
Wilson and Garcia were later seen together, however, Matteson testified.
Matteson also testified that another witness stated he had taken Wilson to Garcia's house about an hour before Garcia's estimated time of death. Apparently, Wilson had left his car at Garcia's and had claimed he had lost his keys.
During the time that witness was with Wilson, Wilson was said to have acted strangely and had plastic bags under his clothing.
The morning after the murder, at about 5 a.m., the witness who dropped off Wilson saw him again.
That witness said Wilson appeared to be covered in feces, believed to be human, and asked if he could take a shower. After Wilson showered, he borrowed clothes and left.
A neighbor of Garcia's told investigators, Matteson testified, that he last spoke with Garcia about 10 p.m. Oct. 2 when he asked Garcia if he wanted a beer.
The neighbor said Garcia "said no because he had his son with him," Matteson testified.
About an hour later, Matteson said, the neighbor noticed Garcia still had his television on and he walked over to Garcia's house. The screen was closed, but the front door was open. In the house, the neighbor saw Garcia, lying on his back, unclothed from the waist down. Garcia's son was seen sitting on the couch. Thinking Garcia was asleep, the neighbor left, Matteson testified.
Matteson said a couple of searches were conducted on Wilson's residence, which he shared with family in the 1000 block of Goleta Way.
In one of the searches, items were taken that included clothing that appeared to have blood on them. Also taken from various items were swabs of blood, Matteson testified.
District Attorney Investigator Bill Kuntz was the only other person to testify at Tuesday's preliminary hearing. He said Wilson's then-ex girlfriend/now wife - "They were married in jail," he said - told him that she knew Wilson to carry knives. Wilson had also been sleeping with knives, Kuntz testified.
She said "she had gone over and he had knives in bed with him," Kuntz testified.
Kuntz also testified that when he asked Wilson, after the murder, how he received a quarter-inch laceration by one of his index fingers and long, linear scratches on his upper body, he didn't want to talk about it.
Just prior to Wilson being led back to jail, he spoke up. He asked the judge if there was any way he could either represent himself or get a new attorney, as he was not happy with Meyer's representation. After he was told how to go about representing himself and was told that Meyer would no longer be representing him anyway, Wilson made a couple of derogatory statements to Meyer and was taken away.
Meyer said Wilson was just taking out his anger out on him.
"Mr. Wilson is highly upset that he's being charged with killing his best friend and is taking that out on everyone, including his attorney," Meyer said.
As for Tuesday's outcome, Meyer said he believes the DA's Office has merely a circumstantial case.
"And, I believe the circumstantial evidence against the defendant is weak," Meyer said. "However, if they are able to shore their case up with forensic evidence such as fingerprints on the alleged murder weapon, DNA of the victim on the defendant or his clothes, or fingernail DNA scrapings" either from the victim or defendant "that would substantially, substantially strengthen their case."
Deputy District Attorney Michelle Winspur said the case against Wilson is still under investigation and she is happy with Tuesday's results.
"This was a brutal stabbing ... quite brutal," Winspur said. "And, one of the most severe parts of this homicide is that the victim's 3-year-old child was there.
"This child will live with that for the rest of his life as well as grow up fatherless."
Brea Hayes, the child's mother, who was present at Tuesday's proceedings, agreed, saying Wilson has damaged her child in more ways than one.
"It's one thing to take a child's father," Hayes said, "and another to do it in front of him."
Hayes described Garcia as a beautiful person who was loved by many.
"There is no reason for this to happen to anyone," she said.
(This reporter may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org