Thursday, December 02, 1999

Sides at trial describe killing


Accused claims self-defense

BY STEVE KEMME
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — The attorneys for Manuel Ramirez Garcia said Wednesday that he shot Jose Juan Hernandez in self-defense on June 25 on a Hamilton street.

        “Mr. Garcia was in fear for his life,” defense attorney Brian Goodyear said in his opening statement at Mr. Garcia's murder trial in Butler County Common Pleas Court.

        But assistant prosecutor Pat Moeller said Mr. Garcia shot an unarmed Mr. Hernandez several times in retaliation for offensive comments the man had made to him.

        As Mr. Hernandez lay bleeding on the ground, Mr. Garcia approached him and shot him two more times, he said.

        Mr. Garcia, 21, of Hamilton, is charged with murder. His jury trial began Wednesday before Judge Patricia Oney. The shooting occurred in the 700 block of Buckeye Street.

        During this trial, a professional interpreter is sitting next to Mr. Garcia, a native of Mexico, and is translating proceedings into Spanish for him.

        After the shooting, Mr. Garcia ran to his girlfriend's house and hid in a bedroom closet, Mr. Moeller said. The Hamilton police flushed him out with tear gas.

        Mr. Garcia told police two or three conflicting stories. He told one officer that he had to kill Mr. Hernandez or be killed, Mr. Moeller said.

        “Mr. Garcia said Mr. Hernandez said offensive things to him,” he said. “He said Mr. Hernandez had to pay for the things he said to him.”

        Later, Mr. Garcia told police that he shot toward the ground and didn't know if he had shot Mr. Hernandez when he ran away, Mr. Moeller said.

        Mr. Goodyear said Mr. Hernandez had struck Mr. Garcia with a beer bottle earlier that evening. He said Mr. Hernandez pulled out a gun, and Mr. Garcia tried to grab it. “There was a struggle,” Mr. Goodyear said. “During the struggle, at least two shots were fired.” He said gunpowder residue found on one of Mr. Hernandez's hands proved that he held the gun.

       



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