Local

Brothers learn fate in Porterville father's murder

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Two brothers learned their fate in the killing of a South Valley father. It's been almost two years to the day that Erick Garcia died outside a Porterville convenience store.

Two years have passed since Jessica Garcia watched as her husband was shot dead in front of her. Erick Garcia was killed after he got into an argument with Jose and Rafael Gonzalez at the Family Store mini mart in Porterville.

The 28-year-old father was stopping by the convenience store after work when Jose Gonzalez shot him five times. His brother, Rafael was charged as an accessory to the murder.

Tearfully reading a letter, Erick Garcia's wife told the court how her life has changed since her husband was killed. "No one will ever understand what it is like to lose the love of my life, my husband, the father of my children. He was a wonderful person. I fell in love with him the first time I saw him."

Jose and Rafael Gonzalez struck a plea deal with the district attorney's office. In exchange for guilty pleas and an admission that they committed the crime on behalf of a criminal street gang their potential sentences were lessened. Jose, the shooter, received 40 years to life in prison. Rafael received 22 years. The plea deal struck a bitter chord with family members who believe they deserve a life sentence.

The victim's father Nick Garcia said, "There's people that have gotten more for less but you know what that's the law. That's justice, I guess."

Nick Garcia spoke directly to Jose and Rafael Gonzalez in court. Only Rafael made eye contact with him in response. "I hope you see his face every waking day of your life. So now you're going to answer to somebody. You always will answer to somebody."

Jessica Garcia brought a drawing by her 8-year-old daughter Heaven, which she asked her mom to present to the court. The drawing shows her father, mother and 13-year-old brother, Erick Junior. Both children asked their mother to read a letter they wrote about their dad.

Jessica Garcia said, "Now my kids ask me every day and every night that they want their dad and I can't give them their dad."

She says she will never forget the day her husband died in her arms.

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Tags:
porterville, tulare county, visalia, shooting, murder, court, local, jessica peres
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