GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — A man who was set free after being tried in Mexico in a 1989 killing in western Colorado is facing prosecution for the crime again after returning to the United States.
Rafael Garcia, accused of killing a man who was involved with his ex-wife in Palisade, was arrested in Denver on Monday after police found that there was a warrant for his arrest for first-degree murder. Authorities haven’t released the details of how police encountered the 67-year-old.
Garcia was first arrested in the killing in 2009 in Mexico when he was 59. Because of Mexico’s hesitancy to extradite people to governments with the death penalty, Mesa County prosecutors agreed to have Mexican authorities prosecute him but he wasn’t convicted, the Daily Sentinel (http://bit.ly/2e3wXc7) reported Thursday.
The district attorney at the time, Pete Hautzinger, and the Mesa County sheriff at the time, Stan Hilkey said the proceedings took some time and they didn’t learn the results until much later.
Both Hautzinger and the current district attorney, Dan Rubinstein, said double jeopardy doesn’t apply because Garcia’s original case was heard in another sovereign country with a completely separate jurisdiction.
“If he was dumb enough to come back to the United States, we’re free to prosecute him,” Hautzinger said.
Garcia, who was transferred to Mesa County after his arrest, appeared before a judge in Grand Junction on Thursday with a public defender to be advised of the possible charges that could be filed against him.
The director of the county’s public defender’s office, Steve Colvin, declined to comment on the allegations against Garcia in the death of Charles Porter and the legality of a second trial.
Information from: The Daily Sentinel, http://www.gjsentinel.com