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Archive for Thursday, October 24, 1996

DENIAL OF GANG TIES CONCERNS JUDGE

October 24, 1996

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A Lawrence man who continually denied his gang ties was sentenced Wednesday to the maximum sentence for two felony convictions.

who prosecutors said has gang ties -- was sentenced Wednesday to almost six years in prison for criminal charges stemming from a March gang-related shooting.

During pre-sentencing comments, the judge left little question as to his position on the matter.

"I don't know how in touch with reality you are," District Judge Michael Malone said. "And that concerns me."

Several teen-age girls welled with tears and put their heads in their hands as William Franco Garcia, 18, received the maximum penalty of five years and nine months for convictions of attempted voluntary manslaughter and criminal possession of a firearm.

Malone decided that Garcia fired a handgun during a March 31 party at Eddingham Place apartments, in the 1400 block of Eddingham Drive. Garcia was on parole at the time.

Citing testimony of several witnesses and evidence presented during the trial, Malone said Garcia's denials that he was involved with a gang were symptoms of arrogance.

"It is arrogant for you to believe that people are not going to believe you are a member of a gang by simply saying you are not a member of a gang," Malone said. "That insults everyone's intelligence."

After Garcia was arrested for auto burglary in 1994, Malone said he had faith in Garcia's assertion at the time that he "wanted to do the right thing." Malone said that faith was gone.

In a hearing earlier this month, Garcia asked for a new trial. He testified that he did not have a gun that night. The testimony contradicted his attorney's opening statement, during which he alleged Garcia fired a gun into the air.

Garcia's mother, Pat Garcia, maintained that her son was wrongfully accused and imprisoned. She said because no gun was found -- prosecutors said Garcia threw it in a lake -- the case against her son was based purely on "hearsay" evidence.

She said those who testified against him were gang members who were given immunity.

"He's innocent," Pat Garcia said.

One of the people who testified, Alonzo Boyd, awaits sentencing later this week on charges of aiding and abetting both an aggravated assault and shooting a firearm at an occupied dwelling for a May 28 incident. Assistant Dist. Atty. Jerry Little said Boyd was granted immunity to ensure his testimony.

During his court proceedings, Garcia asked that his attorney be replaced, which he was.

His new attorney's request for an appeal bond was denied. Garcia has 10 days to file an appeal.

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