FAIRFIELD — The mother of Matt Garcia says the family will return Feb. 10 to Solano County Superior Court when a date may be set for a hearing on whether a new trial is warranted for the man convicted of murdering the Fairfield city councilman.
“It’s just a nightmare,” Teresa Courtemanche said.
She and family members were in court Thursday when the hearing date matter was continued to next year.
A state appellate court ruled in October that it appears Henry D. Williams was the victim of juror misconduct during his 2010 murder trial for the Sept. 1, 2008, fatal shooting of Garcia in a case of mistaken identity.
Williams contends that he was denied his right to an impartial jury because during his trial his wife spent time with a juror who offered to trade his vote for sexual favors. His wife did not say anything about her claims until after the conviction because she was embarrassed and didn’t think she would be believed, according to Williams.
Courtemanche said her family wants to create a path for jurors at the courthouse so they don’t have contact in the hallways with those who are not jurors.
“We told everybody three years ago,” she said, “that the juror and the defendant’s wife – his girlfriend at the time – were talking in the hallway.”
She said she may have to testify in a new trial.
“Here we are – three years later – looking at having to this all over again,” Courtemanche said.
She said other families shouldn’t have to go through the same ordeal. Courtemanche has spoken with lawmakers, including Assemblyman Jim Frazier, to correct the problem at the courthouse that allows jurors to have contact with others during trials.
“The only way our family can get through this is to know that there’s something bigger,” she said.
Garcia, 22, was elected to office in 2007 at 21 and was the youngest councilman in Fairfield history. Convicted murderer Williams and an accomplice were looking in 2008 for a methamphetamine dealer who had stolen $50. Garcia drove past them on his way to a friend’s home and Williams later fired several shots at Garcia, who was standing in the friend’s driveway.
Williams was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to 50 years to life in prison.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.