State v. Garcia

The State of Arizona vs. Alfredo Garcia came to be heard by the Arizona Supreme Court.  Representing Alfredo Garcia was his counsel, David Goldberg.  Representing the State of Arizona was Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Zick.  Oral arguments were given before the Supreme Court on issues relevant to the Garcia case and pertaining to the EnmundTison rule and whether or not it was performed during the proper stage of the legal proceedings.  The oral argument was also pursuant to the fact of whether Garcia was a major participant, and if he deliberately acted with reckless indifference with regard to human life.  The following is a summary of the State v. Garcia oral argument.
The State of Arizona, represented by Jeffery Zick, argues that Sheffield was offered a plea after Garcias trial had ended (Arizona Supreme Court, 2010).  Judge Beech and Judge Ryan questioned Zick as to how this would be applied under Rule 32, admission of newly submitted evidence.  Zick had no clear answer to the question.  Zick emphasized that Garcia should be viewed as a major participant in the murder of Johnson because he knew that Sheffield had murdered before (Arizona Supreme Court, 2010).  This calls for speculation on Garcias part.  Judge Hirwitz asked Zick if the state should look at the lesser participant of a crime and give them the death penalty while giving a life sentence to the major participant of the crime.  Zick asserted that the death penalty is a seasoned decision, and some cases are more culpable than others. Judge Ballers asked Zick if the jury was aware that Sheffield was ill, to which Zick answered that it was stated in the court record that Sheffield suffered from a terminal liver disease. This would make a reasonable person wonder if there was pity taken upon the defendant during the sentencing phase.  It was later learned that the State of Arizona offered Sheffield a plea, to which he took.  It was stated by Zick that Sheffield died within a few months of the plea.

Judge Beech then asked if the state chooses the death penalty in capital cases for financial reasons, meaning, would the state press harder for the death penalty if the defendant were healthy versus being ill.  Zick responded that the death penalty would already be imposed if the defendant were terminally ill.  Zick further argued that Garcia did have knowledge of Sheffield having shot another bartender.  Additionally, Garcia knowingly engaged in a felony with someone who had a gun on his person.  These two reasons, according to Zick, are reason enough to prove by the EnmundTison rule that Garcias conduct made him a major participant in the crime of robbery and murder as did his reckless indifference for human life (State of Arizona, 1999).  Zick added that Sheffield and Garcia acted in concert from the beginning and thereafter the crimes were committed.  Zick concluded his oral argument.
Oral argument for Alfredo Garcia was presented by his counsel, David Goldberg.  Goldberg focused on one main issue during his argument.  Goldberg argued that Garcia was not a major participant in the crime of murder.  He concurred with the court that Garcia was a participant in the crime of robbery, but that since Garcia was not the shooter, he could not be a major participant under the EnmundTison Rule (State of Arizona, 1999).  Goldberg stated that under the EnmundTyson rule it clearly states that ones own conduct determines their level of participation in an alleged crime.  Garcia had no control over what Sheffield was going to do or what he did with the gun in his possession. Goldberg stated that the burden of proof rested on the state to prove the level of participation in the qualifying felony.  Rule 32 was argued by Goldberg in that the jury during Garcias trial was not made aware of the fact that Sheffield had been given a plea when he was in fact the killer (Arizona Supreme Court, 2010).  Goldberg conversed via question and answer with Judge Hirwitz during the majority of his oral argument.

Goldberg pointed out that the jury instruction was not objected to by defense counsel representative of Garcia during the penalty phase of the trial, however it was stated on the record that Garcias involvement was less than that of Sheffield.  Goldberg cited cases such as Burrup, Miles, Phillips, Nostrum, and Ellison (Arizona Supreme Court, 2010).  The Ellison case involved the defendant putting a pillow over the victims face, and the Nostrum case involved the defendant shooting randomly.  Both cases were cited for the Supreme Court ruling that a defendants conduct must be involved in the physical events that lead up to the homicide or murder (Arizona Supreme Court, 2010).  Goldberg added that the jury was prejudiced by not having the proper evidence to make a rational and reasoned decision.  Goldberg concluded his oral argument.
In conclusion and after having heard the oral arguments of both the State of Arizona and David Goldberg, representing Alfredo Garcia, it is more than apparent that the Supreme Court should overturn the death penalty decision in the Garcia case. Garcia was not a major participant in the murder of Johnson, although he was a participant in the robbery.  Other technicalities raise question as to whether or not the trail was handled in a proper legal fashion as well.  For instance, Juror Owens was stricken because when asked whether or not he could vote for the death penalty, he responded that it would depend on the mitigating circumstances of the case.  The striking of this potential juror showed that the Prosecution was seeking to load the jury with people who were thirsty for a death penalty.  It also is a question as to whether or not this was a re-election year whereby getting the death penalty on a defendant would be a feather in the cap of a candidate seeking re-election for a prosecutorial position.


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