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Archive for Sunday, May 23, 2004

Witnesses link Wichita club owner to killings

May 23, 2004

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— Two witnesses have delivered potentially damaging testimony against the owner of a Wichita nightclub charged with killing three people in a five-day period last summer.

Bobby Seigler, 20, told a Sedgwick County jury Friday during the murder trial of Arturo "Jay" Garcia that on July 26, 2003, he and two other men were sitting on a couch at Club Mexico when Garcia walked in with Clint Jones.

"He picked the gun up from behind the cushion and shot Clint," Seigler told the jury.

Seigler said he later was told that Jones owed Garcia money.

Seigler, who pleaded guilty to aiding in a felony for his role in helping Garcia dispose of Jones' body, is scheduled to be sentenced on that charge Monday. He will resume testifying after the sentencing.

Thursday, Lauren Bertsch told jurors how she helped Garcia, her former boss, dispose of three bodies last year on her family's land in Cowley County.

"It smelled like something I had never smelled before," the 19-year-old testified.

Wichita Police believe Garcia shot and killed Jones, 30, in the basement of Club Mexico, then killed two brothers -- Oscar Ramirez, 27, and Nicolas Ramirez, 22 -- five days later in the same manner.

Bertsch said she helped Garcia in early August move body parts from a freezer in a garage at Garcia's duplex to Cowley County, where they were put into 50-gallon drums, doused with gasoline and incinerated.

Bertsch had been charged with aiding a felon, but was placed in a diversion program.

On the night Jones was killed, Bertsch said she noticed Garcia and other club patrons were acting strangely.

"Everyone was acting a little tense," she said.

She said Garcia later told her the Ramirez brothers had come to the club to beat him up and had threatened him with a broken beer bottle, so he shot them.

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