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Sat, Sept. 21

Commentary: Justice missed the mark years ago in Garcia-Soto case

The wheels of justice, it’s often said, move slowly.

Anyone who has ever had cause to participate in legal proceedings are acutely aware of the truth of that old saying.

Legal matters take time. We all can understand that.

What’s hard to make sense of, however, is a case such as the one involving Julio Cesar Garcia-Soto.

Garcia-Soto, a Mexican citizen, was 27 years old when he was arrested in the Village of Oak Creek 11 years ago in connection with the death of his then 3-month-old son.

The charges: first-degree murder and two counts of child abuse.

The details: Firefighters were called to Garcia-Soto’s VOC apartment in the Village of Oak Creek in January 2008 after it was reported the 3-month-old infant boy was not breathing. The baby later died at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. The baby’s injuries included a broken arm, several broken ribs, fractured pelvis and a fractured skull with associated brain trauma.

There’s more: Garcia-Soto, at the time, had two felony warrants for his arrest out of Maricopa County for assault and kidnapping.

An open-and-shut case? That’s the way most folks would see it.

But for the attorneys and jurists who guided this case through the legal maze, the focus on justice somehow was lost.

Yes, Garcia-Soto will be sentenced Tuesday, and he undoubtedly will face many years, if not the rest of his life, in prison.

But this is a classic case of too little, too late. Eleven years from the time such a gruesome crime was committed to the ultimate sentencing is not a case of slow-moving wheels of justice. Rather, it’s an obvious example of a system that is either broken or badly flawed.

Certainly the fingers of blame for how and why this case dragged on for more than a decade can be pointed in many directions. Playing the blame game, though, is not nearly so important as a meeting of the minds of the judges, prosecutors and public defenders involved. We doubt that any of them are happy with the way this case was handled.

Justice certainly missed the mark long ago in the Garcia-Soto years ago.

Those involved need to make sure such a legal fiasco is avoided in the future.

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