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Judge declines to reduce sentence in murder case

Sandra Garcia Sandra Garcia

A judge has declined to reduce the sentence of a Powell woman who’s serving 10 to 18 years in prison in connection with the murder of her husband.

Sandra Garcia, 29, requested a reduction in June, largely citing her involvement in various classes and programs offered in prison. Those efforts include completing a high school equivalency program and an anger management class while also participating in counseling, attending church and helping crochet items for others through a program called “Project Love.”

Park County Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Skoric had objected to a lesser sentence, noting the prison time was part of a plea deal in which Garcia specifically agreed not to ask for a reduction.

“The state respectfully requests that this court deny defendant’s motion in entirety on the grounds that the plea agreement prohibits it,” Skoric wrote in June.

District Court Judge Bill Simpson denied Garcia’s request last week.

“The court believes the sentence Ms. Garcia has received is reasonable under the circumstances and therefore [it] will not be modified or reduced,” Simpson wrote on Nov. 13, using boilerplate language.

Garcia pleaded guilty to felony counts of aiding and abetting manslaughter and accessory after the fact to second-degree murder for the early 2014 death of her husband, 30-year-old Juan Antonio Guerra-Torres. Garcia reportedly brought Guerra-Torres to a highway pullout in Badger Basin, between Powell and Clark, where her brother Pedro Garcia Jr. and family friend John L. Marquez were waiting. Sandra Garcia testified that she brought her husband to the meeting knowing he might be in danger.

Marquez shot and killed Guerra-Torres along Wyo. Highway 294, then dismembered the body with an ax and dumped the headless, handless remains along a remote dirt road. It took investigators months to identify Guerra-Torres’ body and more than a year to make arrests.

Pedro Garcia, who had recruited Marquez to kill Guerra-Torres, received a sentence of 25 to 40 years. Marquez received a 25- to 35-year prison sentence; Marquez said he’d been led to believe that his own family and Garcia’s family were in danger.

Pedro Garcia told authorities that, according to his
sister, Guerra-Torres had become deeply indebted to dangerous drug dealers in Mexico who were threatening the family.

All of the sentences in the case came as a result of plea deals, offered by Skoric’s office with the agreement of law enforcement. District Court Judge Steven Cranfill presided over the cases before his retirement mid-summer.

For reasons that are not detailed in court records, Pedro Garcia filed an appeal of his sentence in July, but then dropped the appeal in September.

At his sentencing hearing in June, Pedro Garcia complained he’d been “abandoned” by his first attorney, then-public defender Nick Beduhn of Cody. In August, the Wyoming Supreme Court announced that it was suspending Beduhn for two years, mainly because of his negligence in representing three private-pay clients in civil cases.

1 comment

  • posted by Steph Sauer

    November 25, 2017 7:45 pm

    Zeems Powell has really gone downhill in past couple years.

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