Friday, January 14, 2000

Man will serve at least 18 years for murder

Shooting took place June 25 in Hamilton

Enquirer Contributor

        HAMILTON — A Hamilton man will spend at least 18 years in prison after a Butler County Common Pleas judge on Thursday found him guilty of murder.

        Manuel Ramirez Garcia, 21, was convicted of shooting Jose Juan Hernandez on June 25 in Hamilton. Judge Patricia Oney sentenced Mr. Garcia to 15 years to life in prison and added a mandatory consecutive three years because a gun was used in the killing. He also was fined $20,000.

        “I tell you I am innocent and I tell you that before God,” Mr. Garcia told the judge through an interpreter immediately after the sentencing. He showed little emotion.

        Because Mr. Garcia is a Mexican native and speaks little English, interpreters translated the four-day trial proceedings into Spanish for him.

        “Of course we're disappointed,” defense attorney Scott Frederick said. “I think the court (reviewed) the evidence and made the decision it felt it had to make.” He said he will appeal.

        “We're satisfied with that verdict,” Butler County Prosecutor John Holcomb said. “I want to say that I thought this job was very well investigated by the Hamilton Police Department. I want to commend Assistant Prosecutor Pat Moeller and Assistant Prosecutor Scott Blauvelt. They worked long and hard to make this thing go.”

        This was Mr. Garcia's sec ond trial on the murder charge. His first ended in a mistrial when a prosecution witness told the jury about a previous arrest. Mr. Garcia waived his right to a jury trial this time.

        In a videotaped police interview shortly after the shooting, Mr. Garcia told police through an interpreter that he didn't shoot Mr. Hernandez, even though the victim had been harassing him and made inflammatory remarks about Mr. Garcia's mother.

        The videotape was played during the trial.

        Mr. Garcia also said Mr. Hernandez appeared with a gun the night of the killing, the tape shows. The two struggled and Mr. Garcia grabbed the gun, but shot it only into the ground, he said.

        But a witness said in court that Mr. Garcia shot Mr. Hernandez twice, and then, standing over the wounded man, shot him two more times.

        Mr. Hernandez, 30, of Hamilton, was taken to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, where he died. The shooting happened in the 700 block of Buckeye Street.


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