15-year-old girl’s testimony conflicts with other witnesses in
Gilroy – Somebody’s lying.
The testimony of 15-year-old Lydia Mollett conflicted with other witnesses in the murder case of Rogelio “Roy” Garcia Jr., who is charged with killing Jeffrey Garner.
Mollett testified Tuesday that her life was in danger when Garner attacked her behind closed doors at Garcia’s barn the night of July 2, and that Garcia, 25, was protecting her when he hit Garner in the head with a metal pipe.
Garner, 25, was killed that night at Garcia’s Gilroy home on Duke Drive during a gathering where he, Mollett, Garcia, and Garcia’s 18-year-old neighbor Hasan Qaddura were drinking Bacardi and smoking methamphetamine.
An autopsy revealed Garner died from brain damage from a fractured skull. Reports indicated he was struck twice in the back of the head with a metal pipe. A third blow shattered his front teeth and split his lower lip, and Garner’s nose was broken from a fourth hit.
“Some details are blurry,” Mollett told Deputy District Attorney Dana Overstreet. “But it’s not that I completely blacked it out.”
More than a dozen of Garner’s friends and family members gathered in a Santa Clara Superior Courtroom Tuesday morning for the second half of the preliminary hearing that began Oct. 27 to determine whether the case will proceed to trial.
During Mollett’s testimony, she occasionally played with her jet black hair cut to the chin and spoke with a scratchy voice.
She wore a hoop nose ring, fitted jeans, and a red tank top underneath a black sweatshirt decorated with skulls on the sleeves and a larger skull on the back. It hung so that it exposed her left shoulder.
Mollett began dating Garner when she was 13 and he was 23. She told the court that he frequently got “severely” physical with her over the course of their 16-month relationship, citing instances where she suffered black eyes and a bloody nose from physical abuse and was threatened that he would kill her if she dated someone else.
That night, Garner became upset about a comment she made, sparking an argument between the two that caused both Garcia and Qaddura to leave the room, according to statements both Mollett and Qaddura gave police.
What happened afterwards is unclear.
“He shook me around,” Mollett testified. “He had that look on his face when he’s blacked out – he’s in beating mode … I believed I was in danger for my life. (Jeff) told me right there he was going to kill me.”
She tried to leave the room, but was prevented by Garner who throw her against the bedroom walls and was choking her, she said.
“Roy, help me, he’s going to kill me,” Mollett said she yelled, hoping someone would hear.
But Qaddura testified Oct. 27 that Garner was not armed when Garcia entered a room to break up a fight between Garner and Mollett. He said Garner was struck from behind with a 3-foot-long metal pipe and did not attempt to attack the suspect with a wooden stick, as Garcia told police. Qaddura felt Mollett’s life was never in grave danger, and denied hearing her scream for help. He said Garner never saw the blows coming.
Mollett offered another variation.
She said Garcia tried to talk with Garner saying, “Calm down. Knock it off,” upon entering the room.
“I’m almost 100 percent positive that Jeff picked something up – it could have been the iron or a bottle,” she told Overstreet. “I looked down, (and covered my face). I heard three bangs. I saw Jeff stumble.”
Mollett later admitted she didn’t recall if Garner definitely picked something up.
After Garcia struck Garner, Mollett said she looked at Garcia and “he was just in awe and disgusted with himself,” she told defense attorney Esau Herrera. “He hadn’t realized that he killed him.”
Garcia stared straight ahead while Mollett spoke. The only time he looked at the audience was when he walked in to the courtroom.
Garner’s mother, Elizabeth, left in early stages of Mollett’s two-hour long testimony.
“There is no doubt that something happened,” Herrera told Superior Court Judge Kenneth Shapero. “The question is what degree, what level of the penal code should this proceed forward?”
He painted Garner as a “drug-crazed, drunk, drug dealer with a history of violence … Prior to that day we might have believed they were old drinking buddies, now we know the truth.”
Overstreet stressed to Shapero that in both Qaddura and Mollett’s testimonies that when Garcia opened the door, Garner was standing away from her.
“The danger was over. Even if she had been in danger, she was not in danger when Roy entered the room,” Overstreet said. “What Lydia thought in her own mind is irrelevant.”
The preliminary hearing will be continued Thursday at 1:30pm, after which Judge Shapero will determine whether Garcia stands trial for murder.
“I hate coming here everyday,” said Jeff Garner Sr. “When it’s a car accident and someone dies, it was an accident. You bury the person and move on. With this … you can’t.”
He doesn’t care about the little discrepancies in Mollett, Garcia’s brother Nick, or Qaddura’s testimonies.
“(Mollett) can try and soften it all she wants for the guy,” but he believes she said what was important – that his son wasn’t near her when the Garcia opened the door.
“She said it – he did it,” Garner said. “I hope he gets put away for a long time.”