Thursday, January 23, 2020 Elyria 37°

Cops and Courts

Defendant in capital murder case asks about plea change

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    Lorenzo Garcia



ELYRIA — An Elyria man facing capital murder charges that could put him on death row told the judge hearing his case that he is considering pleading guilty to charges he murdered a Lorain woman in March 2018.

“I really didn’t want to go through all this,” 32-year-old Lorenzo Garcia told Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi during a pretrial hearing Thursday. “If it was up to me, I’d like to switch my plea.”

Garcia, who is being held in Lorain County Jail on $1 million bond, is accused of killing Linda Wisniewski of Lorain and seriously injuring Kenneth Williams during a March 27, 2018, burglary at Wisniewski’s home on Amherst Avenue.

Lorain police responding to a burglary in progress that night found Wisniewski dead from a gunshot in the head, and Williams shot in the head but alive. Wisniewski also had been tied up and stabbed repeatedly, prosecutors said.

Garcia faces 38 felony charges in the case, including aggravated murder, murder, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, attempted murder, kidnapping, felonious assault, tampering with evidence, having weapons under disability, theft and grand theft of a motor vehicle.

Miraldi told Garcia that a change in plea would be best discussed with his attorneys, Dan Wightman and Kenneth Lieux, who still are waiting on a psychologist to complete a competency report on their client, they told the judge.

Garcia told Miraldi he had discussed a plea with his attorneys and that he has willingly confessed to anyone who would listen to what he did.

“There’s nothing to fight here,” Garcia told Miraldi.

Wightman told the judge that he and Lieux wanted to have a better idea of Garcia’s psychological status before making any making any recommendations or decisions.

“We’re aware of his feelings on this,” Wightman said of his client’s statements.

Miraldi thanked Garcia for letting his feelings be known on the record and said Garcia deserves the court’s respect and consideration of his wishes.

Changing a plea to guilty is “a huge decision and I want it to be knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently done,” Miraldi said.

In other scheduling matters, Wightman said defense psychologist John Fabian’s final report on Garcia should be done Jan. 27.

“Wow, that’s a date further out in the scheduling than I’d hoped,” Miraldi told Wightman, Lieux and Assistant Lorain County Prosecutors Tony Cillo and Laura Dezort.

If that date is accurate, “we’re not going to have a trial date for a long time,” Miraldi said.

Miraldi said once Fabian’s report on Garcia’s psychological status is completed, prosecutors will need time to review it and respond. They also may want to bring in their own psychology expert, he said.

Prosecutors were given access to Garcia’s juvenile court records Thursday, Wightman said. Miraldi set Oct. 3 for another pretrial hearing, though the parties discussed setting another hearing date much sooner after Garcia made his statements.

In a separate case, Garcia faces a third-degree felony drug possession charge filed based on his alleged possession of illegal drugs while in custody at Lorain County Jail.

His co-defendant, 26-year-old Antonio Martinez, will next appear in Miraldi’s courtroom on Sept. 5, according to court records. Also in Lorain County Jail on $1 million bond, he faces 36 felony charges in connection with Wisniewski’s death and his actions after the killing.

Contact Dave O’Brien at (440) 329-7129 or do’ Follow him at @daveobrienCT on Twitter.

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