New details were unveiled Wednesday in the preliminary hearing for Dr. Anthony Garcia, who was bound over to district court and will stand trial for the 2008 murders of Thomas Hunter and Shirlee Sherman as well as the May 2013 deaths of Dr. Roger Brumback and his wife Mary.
During the hearing, Omaha homicide detective Derrek Mois, the only witness called, said they (Omaha Police) have interviewed a stripper from Terre Haute, Indiana who claims Garcia confessed to her about the crimes in October 2012. She claims Garcia said, "I'm not as good of a man as you think I am." He allegedly went on to claim he had killed a lady and little boy.
According to investigators, Garcia visited the strip club two to four times a week. She told an investigator Garcia was a frequent customer, who spent $150 a day, and tried to pursue a relationship with her outside of the club. She allegedly refused and claimed to have had past trouble with police.
Garcia’s attorneys, from Chicago, argued that the woman did not come forward until after seeing the news of Garcia’s arrest – three days later.
The lead Omaha police detective, on the case, testified during the hearing. He admitted that there have been no positive matches of DNA that link Dr. Garcia specifically to the murders. The detective said Garcia’s DNA was not found on the knives used to commit the murder or under the victims’ fingernails; however, he added that not all evidence has been tested.
Following the proceedings, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said it is not unusual for a case to not have concrete DNA evidence. He said the motive is revenge for what happened while Garcia was working in the Creighton University Pathology Department.
Kleine said a third professor in the department, Dr. Chhandra Bewtra, reported a break-in at her home the occurred the same day that Dr. Roger Brumback and Mary Brumback were last seen alive (Mother’s Day). According to court testimony, DNA evidence was found on her door that did not exclude Garcia. Afterward, Kleine declined to elaborate about what that means.
In 2008, Thomas Hunter was found stabbed to death in his family’s dining room. The housekeeper, Shirlee Sherman, was found stabbed to death near the home’s rear exit. The detective testified that the knives used to kill both were from the Hunter’s kitchen and. Both victims had multiple stab wounds to the right side of their necks and, according to investigators, the knives were found in the victims’ necks.
The detective testified that Dr. Roger Brumback was found with multiple gunshot and stab wounds by the front door of his home. His wife, Mary, was found in the main floor living room with multiple stab wounds to her right side. Again, the detective said the knives used were from the Brumback’s kitchen and left at the scene.
Although their bodies weren’t discovered until Tuesday, both Roger and Mary Brumback were wearing the same clothes that they had on Mother’s Day when they had a FaceTime conversation with their daughter. Prosecutors added that Dr. Brumback had scheduled errands on Monday, in Des Moines, that he never showed up for.
Following the murders of Hunter Thomas and Shirlee Sherman, several neighbors worked with police to put together a sketch of the victim. In court Wednesday, the detective said all of the witnesses were shown Garcia’s photo in a line-up; however, none of them selected him as the man they saw.
The witnesses also described a silver Honda CRV, with a back license plate that was peach and had dark lettering, at the crime scene. According to a history of vehicle registrations, Garcia owned a 2000 silver Honda CRV in Shreveport, Louisiana from June 2007 to June 2009.
Judge Rules Media/Public Allowed In Hearing
Garcia was brought into the courtroom Wednesday morning in shackles and a yellow Douglas County Corrections jumpsuit. Prior to his preliminary hearing, Judge Darryl Lowe dismissed a motion, submitted by Garcia's attorneys, to bar the public and media from the proceedings. His attorneys had argued the coverage would prevent their client from getting a fair trial.
Bob Motta, Garcia's attorney, said, "We believe in our client's innocence." He added that they expected Garcia to be bound over for trial and they will begin preparing. Fellow defense attorney Alison Motta said the "revenge theory doesn't hold water."
Judge Lowe said the case is "more circumstantial" but that it's enough probable cause to move it to district court. The defense admitted the threshold is low for the state at this stage of the case. The burden of proof is much higher in trial.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said after the hearing that he was "confident in the case and will proceed," adding "the evidence speaks for itself."
Dr. Garcia was terminated from the Creighton University Pathology Department in 2001. The two people central to his firing were Dr. Brumback and Dr. William Hunter, Thomas' father.
Garcia's family was in the courtroom, as was the family of Shirlee Sherman, who was the Hunters' housekeeper.