Redwood City man serving life in prison for teen murder may be resentenced

Bonnie eslinger (San Jose Mercury News) | January 4, 2014

A Redwood City man serving life without parole for a gang-related murder when he was 17 years old could be resentenced in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that such sentences are unconstitutional for juveniles.

Ricardo Garcia, 22, was convicted in May 2010 of first-degree murder with special circumstances for using a firearm and associating with a gang when he committed the homicide, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

Garcia fatally shot 17-year-old Solomon Zarate a large house party in Redwood City. The two were arguing when Garcia pulled a gun out of his pocket and shot Zarate, who fell to the ground. Garcia then stood over the victim and fired several more shots.

At the request of prosecutors, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Robert Foiles on Friday postponed to Jan. 24 the setting of a date for possibly resentencing Garcia. It is the county’s first such case stemming from the high court’s decision last year, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

The Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

Wagstaffe noted the Supreme Court decision doesn’t guarantee that Garcia’s sentence will be changed, only that it will be reconsidered. Wagstaffe said he is also reviewing the case to determine whether to press again for life without parole.

The Supreme Court concluded that life without parole should be “limited to juveniles who are irrevocably criminal … there’s no hope for them at all,” Wagstaffe said. “That’s definitely something I’ll be looking at.”

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