FAIRFIELD — On the eve of a hearing about possible juror misconduct during his 2010 murder trial, the man who shot and killed Fairfield City Councilman Matt Garcia in 2008 said Thursday he is suing his defense attorney and that Judge Robert Bowers is not going to be fair.
Henry D. Williams wants his current court-appointed deputy public defender, the same attorney who lost Williams’ murder trial, replaced by an attorney from San Francisco who had initially handled the juror misconduct issue after the Court of Appeal ordered the hearing be conducted.
The hearing is intended to flesh out Williams’ claims that a juror approached his wife in the courthouse hallway during a break in his jury trial and began talking with her in a conversation that eventually included the juror offering to trade his vote for sex. The juror, who ultimately was the foreman, acknowledges having a brief conversation with Williams’ wife, but denies anything other than pleasantries were exchanged.
Williams shot and killed Garcia on the night of Sept. 1, 2008, in a drunken case of mistaken identity. Williams and an accomplice were looking for a methamphetamine dealer who had ripped off the accomplice for $50 earlier in the day. Williams mistook Garcia for the dealer and fired several shots at him. Williams blamed the accomplice for the shooting.
Williams thinks it was “really fishy” the way the San Francisco attorney was replaced by the public defender in December 2013, two months after the appellate decision, and then the hearing was sent back to Bowers instead of being handled by another judge.
Williams says his lawsuit was mailed to the civil court Aug. 9. Court records do not reflect the lawsuit having been filed. The lawsuit claims Williams is the victim of professional negligence by his public defender.
“I just want a fair shot at this,” Williams said during a jailhouse interview. “I can’t be sitting in a (prison) yard playing guitar thinking woulda, coulda, shoulda. I have to say something. If something starts out tarnished, it’s likely it’s going to end up tarnished.”
Williams said he believes Bowers’ bias is obvious because he did not move the 2010 murder trial to a different county and he allowed what Williams described as improper jury instructions and evidence for jurors to consider. Williams, who acted as his own lawyer for several months earlier this year, also says he was bullied into having the public defender take over the hearing from him a few months ago.
“He previously revealed to me his belief that (Bowers) is not going to be fair and that I was not going to get a fair trial in this county in front of this judge,” Williams said. “You can’t expect me to sit there and do nothing. The attorney’s job is to protect me and he is not protecting me.”
Williams said he hopes the misconduct hearing reveals that something was going on during jury deliberations and it results in a new trial with a new judge outside of Solano County.
“I’m taking a stand for my right to a fair trial,” Williams said. “The judge is going to do his thing. Let’s get it on the record and get the ball rolling.”
“I have kids, a career,” he said. “I want to be out of this sometime soon. I’m ready to go home. This battle has just begun.”
Garcia, 22, was one of the youngest elected officials in the state when he was elected to office in 2007 at age 21. He was the youngest councilman in Fairfield history.
Williams is scheduled to appear in court Friday.
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.