|Thursday, 11 December 2008 01:37|
Born: 1960, Dominican Republic
Died: September 26, 1999 Bergen County, New Jersey
Cause of death: Gunshot wounds
Notable because: Hours before her wedding her former boyfriend, who relied heavily on a pronounced belief in God, arrived at the wedding ceremony and shot her in her wedding dress. Her murder highlighted the issue of domestic violence.
HACKENSACK, N.J. — A jury convicted Agustin Garcia of murder for killing his former girlfriend on the day she was to marry another man, rejecting his defense that her “betrayal” made him lose his head.
Agustin Garcia, well-known in the Dominican community as head of several non-profit organizations, was sentenced to life in prison. The jury rejected a finding of “passion provocation” manslaughter, which would have carried a maximum of 10 years.
Prosecutor Fred Schwanwede portrayed Garcia, 49, as an obsessed stalker who could not accept that Gladys Ricart, 39, had finally left him after a tempestuous seven-year relationship.
“Gladys Ricart’s only mistake was that she was too kindhearted,” Schwanwede said outside the courtroom. “I am convinced that if Gladys Ricart had sought a domestic violence restraining order, she would be alive today.”
Garcia and his lawyers, however, maintained he considered Ricart his wife and had no reason to suspect she was getting married until he went by her Ridgefield home on Sept. 26, 1999.
Both sides agree that Garcia shot Ricart that Sunday afternoon as she distributed flowers to her bridal party. The shooting was captured on tape by her wedding video photographer. Garcia drove by the home and after noticing people outside, but testified he hadn’t realized Ricart was about to be married. Garcia was “puzzled and confused” to see her in a wedding dress, his lawyers said.
Schwanwede contended that not only was Garcia aware of an impending wedding, but that the Rolls-Royce, two stretch limousines, tuxedo-clad men and “eight young ladies wear(ing) identical dresses” made it clear what was planned.
Garcia went inside the house with his briefcase, which carried his handgun. Extra bullets were in a pocket.
Garcia had testified to a turbulent but passionate relationship, which he said continued until the day she died. The defense maintained Garcia and Ricart even had sex three days before the planned wedding.
But before the sentencing, when the judge allowed him to address the court, Mr. Garcia turned toward the gallery where Ms. Ricart's relatives were seated.
''I love you, and the fact that I took Gladys's life when in fact I would trade my life 1,000 times over for hers,'' he said, the rest of the sentence suddenly drowned out by the sobs of Ms. Ricart's sister, Yolanda, and other relatives.
Citing several biblical passages, Mr. Garcia said he also hoped that his own family might find spiritual comfort. He described how he enjoyed helping young people in prison and yearned for the day when God would ''dry our tears and heal us.''
''May God bless you all,'' he concluded. ''Thank you and I'm sorry.''
When Mr. Garcia was finished, one of Ms. Ricart's nieces, Lethy Liriano, who was to be a bridesmaid in her aunt's wedding and was present when the shooting took place, addressed Mr. Garcia.
''When you walked in that day, you almost shot me,'' she said, after describing the lingering psychological and emotional impact that witnessing the shooting had on Ms. Ricart's family.
She concluded: ''That's not simply a five-second mistake. That's a mistake that's going to affect my family the rest of our lives.''
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 17:30|