Garcia blames friend for 2 killings

Defendant takes stand

jury begins deliberations

April 02, 2004|By Reginald Fields | Reginald Fields,SUN STAFF

John Patrick Garcia took the stand in his own defense yesterday, explaining why two dead prostitutes had his DNA on their bodies but blaming their killings on a buddy who he said smoked crack and shared women with him.

Garcia, 36, of Dundalk, is on trial in Baltimore Circuit Court, charged with murder in the deaths of 33-year-old Melody Brock and 18-year-old Danielle Fell, whose nude bodies were found on South Baltimore streets within a five-week period in 2002.

Jurors received the case late yesterday afternoon but did not reach a verdict before Judge John M. Glynn dismissed them for the day. They are to resume deliberations this morning, deciding whether to convict Garcia of first-degree murder or second-degree murder in each killing, or to acquit him.

The jury got the case after hearing Garcia implicate a man whom prosecutors and police say they had not heard of until just before the trial began Tuesday. Garcia sat with his elbows on the arms of the witness chair. He offered answers almost before attorneys could finish their questions.

On the nights the women were killed, Garcia admitted being with the victims in an East Baltimore apartment rented by a friend he called "Uncle Paul."

Garcia said Paul was supposed to take Brock home using Garcia's van April 8, 2002, after the three had been drinking alcohol and smoking crack. Instead, Garcia testified, Paul came back to the apartment fidgety and later told Garcia he had killed Brock. He then drove him to where he had dumped her body in the 2200 block of Newkirk Avenue, Garcia said.

About a month later, Garcia testified, Paul stopped him on the street with another prostitute, Fell got into his car and asked him whether he wanted to get high. Garcia said he agreed and testified that he drove Paul's car while Paul and Fell were making out in the back seat. At some point, he said, he thought Paul was getting rough with the woman.

"I said, `I'm not going through this with you again,'" Garcia testified he said to Paul, referring to Brock's death. "And I got out." He said that was the last time he saw Fell, whose body was found in the 1300 block of Bayliss St. Garcia has been in jail since May 2002.

The state's case, based on circumstantial evidence, could rest on whether the jury believed Garcia's story. Prosecutors made it clear they did not.

"You sat in jail for 22 months when you claim you knew who committed these murders and you never called the police?" Assistant State's Attorney Larry Doan asked Garcia.

"No, I did not," Garcia replied.

After yesterday's session, Garcia's attorney, Warren A. Brown, said his client had to take the stand to clear up discrepancies in his statement to police about whether he knew Brock and to explain to the jury how his DNA was found on both victims.

In addition to the DNA evidence, prosecution witnesses testified this week that bite marks on the breasts of both victims matched Garcia's teeth. They also linked to Garcia a boot print, a tire track and a baseball found near Brock's body.

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