Convicted killer Anthony Garcia has been sentenced to death
Convicted killer Anthony Garcia has been sentenced to death. That word came during an emotional afternoon in court Friday in which one of the judges involved in the case had to leave the courtroom.
The sentencing of Garcia came to an abrupt halt as Judge Gary Randall, reviewing the case prior to sentence, paused, and stepped away from the bench saying he was in pain. "I apologize," the judge said as he left the courtoom.
Randall appeared moments away from issuing sentencing but stepped away from bench. He said it wasn't nerves, but pain. His breathing was labored for the last few minutes as he read.
Medics were called. They wheeled Judge Randall from the courtroom.
After a delay, the remaining two judges from the three-judge panel resumed the proceedings. District Judge Rick Schreiner of Beatrice was on the bench. He made brief mention that Judge Randall's pain was related to a back issue but details are uncertain.
The sentencing order was already written. Both of the other two judges involved Friday served on the 3-Judge panel.
Judge Schreiner finished the panel's work sentencing Garcia to death.
"I don't have a question that that was the correct procedure. I just hope Judge Randall is ok and everybody I know wants him to be ok, and he's in our thoughts and prayers right now. I mean, he got taken out of here in a squad and that's concerning," said Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine.
Garcia was found guilty of murdering Dr. Roger Brumback, his wife Mary, 11-year old Thomas Hunter and the Hunters’ housekeeper Shirlee Sherman.
In June, the three-judge panel heard from the defense and prosecutors on why Garcia should or should not be given the death penalty.
Garcia sat through the hearings unresponsive with his eyes closed as his lawyers presented a defense of mental illness.
In October, 2016, a Douglas County jury convicted Garcia on all counts including four counts of First Degree Murder.
The jury weighed weeks of testimony about the 2008 deaths of Thomas Hunter and Shirlee Sherman as well as the 2013 deaths of Dr. Roger Brumback and Mary Brumback.
Prior to sentencing Friday, Bradley Waite, Shirlee Sherman's brother said, "Today will not be the last chapter, we know that." He said, "We'll get a sigh of relief upon his death. And the sooner the better."
After the sentencing, Waite said, "The lethal injection is way too good for him."
Jeff Sherman, Shirlee Sherman's son, said, "Mr. Garcia doesn't deserve my forgiveness."
Daniel Waite, Shirley's brother, said, "The facts were pretty clean to me throughout." He said, "The images of the murders that we witnessed during court were indelible."
After sentencing, Claire Hunter, the mother of Thomas Hunter, said, "Thomas was a wonderful, lively child." She said "He was a joy in everybody's life and he didn't deserve what happened to him."
Garcia's brother, Fernando Garcia, offered apologies to the families of the victims. "We just want the victims families to know that we pray for them." He said he hopes they find closure.
Prosecutor Don Kleine said, "We're very satisfied. We're very happy that this is done." He said this has been a long case that took a lot of work by Omaha Police to get the case to court.
An appeal is automatic. Kleine said, "The Supreme Court will hear this case," but the prosecutor added, "We know that he's never going to get out to hurt anybody else."
Garcia was moved to death row after the hearing, looking only slightly more alert, where he will remain unless an appeal were to change something.
There's no telling when Garcia might actually be put to death. Nebraska would still have to obtain lethal injection drugs.
Shirley Sherman's brother said he thinks the state should use whichever drugs they want.
"I would say, use what you think is right and if it doesn't kill him, put a bullet through his head. Bottom line. Same thing happens. He's gone. And then bring the next one in and adjust your chemicals however you have to and if that doesn't work the way you want it to, put a bullet through his head. And I'll furnish that bullet," said Brad Waite.
Garcia is now the 12th person on Nebraska's death row.