Monday, December 22, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Justices hear appeal from Garcia’s killers

By
From page A1 | July 03, 2013 |

SAN FRANCISCO — A three-justice panel heard oral arguments Tuesday in the appeals of the two men who were convicted of murder charges for the 2008 shooting death of Fairfield City Councilman Matt Garcia.

Attorneys for Henry D. Williams and Gene A. Combs previously submitted lengthy written briefs detailing why their clients deserved to have their convictions overturned and their life sentences thrown out.

Williams and Combs were driving from a Cordelia drug dealer’s home on the night of Sept. 1, 2008, after Combs was stiffed by the dealer over a $50 methamphetamine deal. Garcia drove past them and parked at a nearby home to visit a friend. Williams mistook Garcia for the dealer, and with a gun provided by Combs, fired eight shots toward Garcia, striking him fatally once in the back of the head.

In separate jury trials in 2010, Williams and Combs were found guilty. Williams was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison. Combs got 15 years to life in prison.

The attorneys for Williams and Combs claimed both men were unfairly prejudiced by pretrial publicity, that Judge Robert Bowers mistakenly allowed testimony about Combs’ statements to authorities after his arrest and that the prosecutor committed misconduct.

The justices aggressively quizzed the appellate lawyers, interrupting them repeatedly with remarks or questions that at times seemed to bolster points raised by a lawyer with the state Attorney General’s Office, who objected to the idea that either killer deserved a new trial.

Neither Williams nor Combs was at the hearing. Garcia’s family attended the hearing.

Justices asked both appellate lawyers to limit their comments to their strongest issues.

Combs’ lawyer focused most of his attention on trying to dispel the idea that Combs aided and abetted in the killing and that the killing was a likely possible consequence. He said Combs may have helped Williams try to extort the drug dealer, but Williams acted entirely on his own a few minutes later in shooting Garcia and said Combs had no idea Williams was toting a gun.

The deputy attorney general countered the claim that Combs did not know about Williams’ gun, quoting from Combs’ statement to an investigator in which he admitted he saw Williams with the gun at the drug dealer’s home.

Williams’ appellate lawyer focused largely on what Combs told the drug dealer in a phone call the day after the shooting.

“Those bullets were meant for you,” Combs said.

Jurors never should have learned about Combs’ remark, because Williams’ attorney had no way to cross-examine Combs about the remark, Williams’ appellate attorney said. Justices pointed out that Williams’ trial attorney wanted jurors to know of the remark because the defense case was that Combs was the real killer.

Justices reminded Williams’ appeals lawyer about the self-incriminating statements Williams made after the murder, including telling one friend he had “unloaded a clip on somebody” and “I shot me a councilman.”

Justices announced no decisions at the end of the hearings. They typically do not issues rulings on appeals until a few months after oral arguments.

Justices previously deferred considering a separate request made by Williams to have his conviction and prison sentence thrown out in a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

In the petition, Williams claims that during his trial, his wife had spent time with a juror in the trial, who offered to barter his vote for sexual favors. He claimed that his wife did not say anything about her claims until after her husband’s conviction because she was embarrassed and did not think anyone would believe her.

The juror was previously quizzed about the accusation. He acknowledged being approached briefly during a break in the trial by a woman he did not know, but he denied that anything untoward happened.

Garcia, 22, was one of the youngest elected officials in the state. Elected to office in 2007 at 21, he was the youngest councilman in Fairfield history.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or jsullivan@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.

Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 3 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • ClancyJuly 03, 2013 - 3:43 pm

    There a few things that are not fair about this trial : #1 they did not get the death penalty. #2: the taxpayers have to pay for theit attorneys food .. existence. #3 they could get out habd we would have more scum back in our community.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • ClancyJuly 03, 2013 - 3:47 pm

    There are several things that are unfair about thios trial/ case.. #1 They did not get the death penalty. #2 The taxpayers have to pay for their attorneys, food and basic existence. $3 It is possible this scum will be back out in our community.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • ClancyJuly 03, 2013 - 4:25 pm

    What is unfair about this case is: #1 they did not get the death penalty. #2 We taxpayers have to pay for their defense , their food, basically their existence #3 Someday they could get out and this scum could be back in our community or some other community.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Christmas comes early to San Marco Street park

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Travis squadron delivers Christmas gifts to East Tabor

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

How this chunky Wade met Chunky Wade

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

 
Multiple car accident blocks I-80 in Vacaville

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Solano Kwanzaa celebration set for Vallejo return

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Lawyers off free legal advice in Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
 
Kitchen fire dislocates family for Christmas

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Famous Creations’ toy drive and cupcake sale

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Last-minute shopping at Vacaville Premium Outlets

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Fairfield police log: Dec. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Dec. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Weather for Dec. 22, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B10

 
.

US / World

Killer of 2 NYC officers had long criminal history

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Killings of 2 New York officers trigger backlash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

California puzzles over safety of driverless cars

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Timeline of events before and after NY cop deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

A look at the 2 NYC officers killed in ambush

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
What’s being said about killings of 2 NYC officers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Pakistan makes arrests in Taliban school carnage

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Florida authorities say 1 police officer shot and killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Tent city sprouts in shadow of downtown Detroit

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
US mulls putting NKorea on terrorism sponsor list

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Satanic Temple puts up display at Michigan Capitol

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Australian woman charged with murder of 8 children

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Exit poll: Ex-regime official is Tunisia’s new president

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
.

Opinion

Faust and the 2015 federal budget

By Mike Kirchubel | From Page: A8

 
Obama, surgeon general still losing to NRA

By Francis Wilkinson | From Page: A8

Let the music begin

By Colleen Britton | From Page: A8

 
Editorial Cartoon: Dec. 22, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Dec. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Dec. 22, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Dec. 23, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
 
Horoscopes: Dec. 22, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
‘Hobbit’ goes out on top with $90.6 million 5-day debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Good news from Tom Brokaw: His cancer is in remission

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Review: ‘The Interview’ deserves to be seen

By Jake Coyle | From Page: B7

Happy day: Elton John, David Furnish marry in England

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
TVGrid Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

.

Sports

Kings snap 5-game losing skid, beat Lakers 108-101

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Burns gives Sharks late-night win over Blues in OT

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

The Week Ahead: Not much of a break for Christmas

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1

 
Steelers, Packers win, move into playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Raiders knock Bills out of playoffs with 26-24 win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Super-G crash makes Vonn wait in bid for record

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NFL Roundup: Cowboys end 4-year drought, make playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
7 hurt when lightning strikes near Tampa Bay game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

India’s Arjun Atwal wins Dubai Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Documents: FSU QB Winston cleared in conduct hearing

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

US companies eager to embrace Cuba face hurdles

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Survey: US gas prices fall 25 cents per gallon

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Obituaries

Marian Kay Zutz

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Bart Ferro

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Wizard of Id Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Crossword Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Bridge Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Word Sleuth Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Blondie Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Beetle Bailey Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Garfield Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

B.C. Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Wizard of Id Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

For Better or Worse Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Get Fuzzy Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baby Blues Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Zits Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Peanuts Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Dilbert Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Sally Forth Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Pickles Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Rose is Rose Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Frank and Ernest Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Word Sleuth Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Crossword Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Sudoku Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Cryptoquote Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Bridge Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7