By Darrell Todd Maurina: CNJ staff writer
Prosecutors began their first full day of presenting witnesses on Tuesday in the case of Fernando Garcia, who is charged with murdering Moises Ortiz during a February 2003 dogfight at Ortiz’s home in south Clovis.
The defense attempted to discredit a witness of the alleged crime during questioning, claiming the witness lied under oath to officers the day of the incident.
Defense attorney James W. Klipstine Jr. reminded the Curry County District Court jury that witnesses originally denied knowing what happened.
Prosecution witness Heath Egan testified Tuesday that Garcia, 20, pulled out a gun that night. But Klipstine read from a sworn statement Egan gave to police that night denying he knew what happened.
“Why did you tell the police that?” Klipstine asked.
“To avoid getting myself in trouble,” Egan replied.
“So are you saying you lied under oath to keep yourself out of trouble?” Klipstine asked.
“In that circumstance, yes,” Egan said.
Egan, a friend of Moises Ortiz, said he had been invited to Ortiz’s home that night to drink beer. He initially told police he arrived at the home after Ortiz died.
Egan denied knowing what happened until police determined that the body of Ortiz had been moved and placed in a position on top of the tire tracks where Egan’s car had previously driven. Police then told Egan he must have arrived before the shooting.
In Egan’s court testimony of the shooting, Garcia pulled out a gun during a verbal argument and waved it in Egan’s general direction.
“Moises told him to put it away a couple of times and said something about how disrespectful it was to bring a gun to his house,” Egan said.
But Garcia didn’t put away the gun, Egan testified. The verbal argument then became a fistfight between a number of people and Egan said Ortiz was shot during the brawl.
Under questioning by Klipstine, Egan said he couldn’t be sure there wasn’t another gun present.
Dr. Patricia McFeeley, assistant chief medical investigator at the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator, showed bullets recovered from Ortiz’s body and diagrammed five entry wounds and one exit wound.
“Each of the wounds created a hole in the bowel and bleeding from there,” McFeeley said. “These are things that over a period of time would cause a lot of bleeding and eventually kill him, but none of these would have killed him instantly.”
McFeeley testified that while Ortiz would have been in considerable pain and may have fainted from blood loss, she couldn’t rule out that Ortiz may have been able to walk a short distance. McFeeley also said at least two of the five shots were fired from close range, possibly by someone who held the gun directly against Ortiz’s body.
“So if a man said he was at the shooting said he saw Fernando Garcia stand there (at a distance) shooting one, two, three, four, that would not be consistent with the evidence, right?” Klipstine asked.
McFeeley agreed. Deputy district attorney Bryan McKay then asked whether another shooting scenario was possible.
“So if I understand this correctly, it would be consistent with a person being held in a chokehold reaching back and shooting into the abdomen of the person choking him?” McKay asked.
“As long as the person was bending over, yes,” McFeeley said.
The final witness to take the stand was Detective Keith Farkas of the Clovis Police Department. Farkas showed detailed videotapes of the crime scene, pointing out the location of Ortiz’s body and where bullets and shell casings were found.
Klipstine asked why Farkas didn’t do more testing for a list of different items.
“You had a gunshot victim. Why didn’t you check to see if anyone had discharged a gun?” Klipstine asked.
“If I had been the case agent, I would have done so,” Farkas replied.
The trial adjourned for the day before Klipstine finished questioning Farkas. Judge Stephen Quinn said his court will reconvene at 8:30 a.m. today.