Tue, July 23

Man chooses trial over 3-year plea deal

Ernest James Garcia

Ernest James Garcia

CAMP VERDE – Ernest James Garcia, representing himself in Yavapai County Superior Court on Monday, elected to go to trial on four charges of failure to appear rather than take the plea deal offered by the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office.

Judge Michael R. Bluff stated the plea deal was “attractive,” considering the risk. Garcia called it “ridiculous.”

Due to a prior conviction in Long Beach, California, 56-year-old Garcia faces approximately nine years for each charge – totaling a maximum exposure of 38 years in prison if found guilty on all counts in a jury trial.

The plea deal would have sentenced him to three years if Garcia pleaded guilty to one count of failure to appear. Bluff ensured Garcia he would accept the plea agreement stipulations.

The failure to appear charges stem from a pretrial conference and three days of trial, to which Garcia did not show up. He was acquitted of all charges in that case.

Garcia declined any time to consider the plea deal, which was then withdrawn by the State.

Judge Bluff appointed the public defender’s office to represent Garcia during his trial.

A pretrial conference in the case was scheduled for June 25.