In November 1998, a woman was shot and killed on her property in Morgan Hill, California. Police arrested Roy Lopez Garcia, the victim’s neighbor, who had been involved in ongoing property disputes with the victim and had reportedly threatened her. Garcia owned several guns, but none of them matched the weapon used to kill the victim, and the only evidence linking Garcia to the murder was testimony by a jailhouse informant. The informant stated that Garcia had told him that the police would never find the murder weapon. In September 2000, a jury convicted Garcia of first-degree murder and he was sentenced to life.
In 2005 the California Supreme Court reversed Garcia’s conviction and ordered a new trial because the jury had been allowed to visit the crime scene without either Garcia or his attorney present. At Garcia’s second trial in October 2006, the informant’s credibility was undermined by evidence that he had lied in another trial. The jury acquitted Garcia of all charges.
- Stephanie Denzel