Man charged in killings of 2 women to testify

April 01, 2004|By Reginald Fields | Reginald Fields,SUN STAFF

The Dundalk man accused of killing two prostitutes and dumping their naked bodies on city streets will testify today, the only defense witness expected in a case built largely on circumstantial evidence.

John Patrick Garcia, 36, of the 7400 block of Alvah Ave. is on trial in Baltimore Circuit Court in the strangulation of Melody Brock, 33, in April 2002 and Danielle Fell, 18, a month later. Brock's body was found propped against a dirt hill in the 2200 block of Newkirk St. Fell's body was sprawled over a curb in the 1300 block of Baylis St.

If convicted, Garcia could be sentenced to life without parole.

Both women have been described in court by family members as drug-addicted prostitutes, and prosecutors say both died immediately after encounters with Garcia.

A string of police officers, detectives and forensics experts testified yesterday -- the second day of a trial that could go to the jury today -- telling of evidence linking Garcia's minivan, teeth marks, boot print and DNA to both victims.

At one point, Garcia's attorney, Warren A. Brown, impatiently interrupted Assistant State's Attorney Larry Doan as he questioned a police technician about a boot print found near Brock's body.

"We agree it's the tire track, we agree that it's the boot print, can we please just move on," Brown said. Doan then quipped he would "donate part of my salary to Mr. Brown for helping the prosecution."

Dental and DNA experts testified that bite marks on both women's breasts and traces of DNA in their bodies and under fingernails likely came from Garcia. But there were also DNA traces on both women that did not belong to them and could not be linked to Garcia.

Despite the absence of eyewitnesses and direct evidence that Garcia killed the women, prosecutors believe the circumstantial evidence is strong enough to convict him. A day earlier, Doan and Assistant State's Attorney Joanne Stanton produced a tattered baseball found near Brock's body that Garcia's grade-school son told police belonged to him.

Prosecutors conclude their case today.

After court yesterday, Brown said Garcia would offer testimony that explains the physical evidence linking him to the women. During opening statements Tuesday, Brown told the jury that Garcia had sexual contact with both prostitutes.

"He will say something consistent with some of the physical evidence against him," Brown said of Garcia. "He'll say another guy was with him. He'll explain the van's tire track near Brock."

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