Fort Sumner man found guilty

By Chelle Delaney: Freedom Newspapers

TUCUMCARI — A Quay County jury found a Fort Sumner man guilty Thursday of killing his wife three years ago outside their home.

The jury deliberated less than two hours before finding Jose Garcia, 42, guilty of murder in the second degree, tampering with evidence and using a firearm in the commission of the murder.

A sentencing hearing is expected in 30 to 45 days, prosecutor Len Walker said.

Melody Garcia’s body was found June 4, 2004, by workers near the railroad tracks about 12 miles west of Fort Sumner, Walker said. She was shot once in the head with a .380-caliber semiautomatic gun, said Walker. She was 43 at the time.

“It’s not what we wanted, but we will settle for it,” said Robert Pennington of Fort Sumner, Melody Garcia’s brother. “We were hoping for first degree.”

Pennington said the Garcias were married for 12 years when the shooting occurred.

At the time of the killing, Melody Garcia had been working for several months at Hank’s Bail Bond in Clovis, Pennington said.

Walker said he was disappointed the jury did not find Jose Garcia guilty of first-degree murder. “But I’m extremely relieved for the family that this ordeal is over.”

The trial in the 10th Judicial District Court in Tucumcari began on Monday.

It took the case three years to come to court because defense attorneys had raised competency hearings on Jose Garcia’s behalf, Walker said.

After his arrest, Jose Garcia was taken to the jail in Fort Sumner where he slashed his wrist in an attempted suicide, Lt. Pat Werick of the state police said in 2004.

Walker said the prosecution was considering asking five more years to be added to the base sentence of 15 years for the second-degree murder charge.