Man goes on trial in slayings of 2 women

Dundalk resident dumped bodies on street, state says

Defense admits sexual contact

March 31, 2004|By Reginald Fields | Reginald Fields,SUN STAFF

With poster-size crime scene photographs of two slain women put on view by prosecutors, the trial of a Dundalk man accused in both killings began yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court.

John Patrick Garcia of the 7400 block of Alvah Ave. is accused of killing the two women -- 33-year-old Melody Brock in April 2002 and 18-year-old Danielle Fell a month later -- and dumping their naked bodies alongside city streets.

"I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen, that the defendant with his own hands strangled Brock and Fell," said Assistant State's Attorney Larry Doan as he stood near the photos of the two women, who police have said were prostitutes.

Garcia's attorney, Warren Brown, accused the prosecution of a "shock and awe" tactic by showing the graphic photographs and trying to play on jury members' emotions.

Brown said Garcia, a 36-year old forklift operator, will testify during the trial and admit that he paid for sex with Brock and Fell at separate times but that he did not kill either woman.

"Having contact with them ain't the same as murdering them," Brown told the jury in his opening statement.

Garcia is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, third-degree sex offense, and first- and second-degree assault. Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of life in prison without parole if Garcia is convicted.

Prosecutors attempted yesterday to portray Garcia as a serial killer by drawing on similarities in the deaths of Brock and Fell.

They said the two women were drug users who were prostitutes in South Baltimore. Both were asphyxiated. Both had bite marks on their breasts. Both had Garcia's DNA either in their bodies or under their fingernails. And in both cases, their naked bodies were dumped in plain view near streets.

"They were displayed," Doan said. "Displayed for everyone to see."

Much of yesterday's testimony was related to Brock's death; prosecutors expect to present evidence in Fell's killing later. Brock's body was found in the 2200 block of Newkirk Ave. propped up against a dirt hill. Fell's body was sprawled near a curb in the 1300 block of Bayliss St. It was discovered at night by a couple walking their dog.

Prosecutor's tried to link Garcia to the location where Brock's body was found.

A tire track matching the tire on a minivan Garcia drove was found near Brock's body, as well as a tattered baseball with distinct markings that Garcia's grade-school son identified as his, a police homicide detective testified.

There was also a bootprint at the scene of Brock's body that matched a pair of boots owned by Garcia, the detective testified.

Brown argued that Garcia had sexual contact with the women, which explains his DNA being found, but that the prosecution has no evidence that he killed them.

Brown told the jury that he would not try to prove Garcia innocent but show that the prosecution cannot prove its case.

"We're not going to hide behind our right to remain silent; [Garcia] is going to take the stand to testify," Brown told the jury in his opening statement. "And when he does, he's not going to try to prove his innocence, it will be a response to the allegations against him."

Garcia has also been indicted in the kidnapping, rape and attempted murder of a woman in 2001, and the sexual assault of another woman in 2002. Prosecutors hope to bring those cases to trial immediately after the current trial.

He was arrested in May 2002 in connection with another case. The trial is expected to resume today in front of Circuit Judge John M. Glynn.

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