By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
EVERETT — A Lynnwood man accused of helping carry out and cover up the 2012 murder of a Mount Vernon teen pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder.
Victor Garcia, 20, denied that he committed the killing but acknowledged that a jury likely would convict him. Prosecutors had threatened to go forward with a first-degree murder charge if the case went to trial.
Superior Court Judge Richard Okrent also was told Tuesday that co-defendant Edgar Omar Alejandre planned to testify against Garcia.
Alejandre is serving 26 years in prison for the July 2, 2012 slaying. Prosecutors alleged that he gunned down Fernando Mendoza, 18, over a drug debt. Alejandre also has denied taking part in the killing. He pleaded guilty under the same theory used by Garcia.
Prosecutors don’t believe Garcia pulled the trigger, however they allege that he helped plot the murder. He also was accused of hiding the victim’s body in a field north of Snohomish and cleaning up the crime scene.
As part of his plea, Garcia said he didn’t want to risk being convicted of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory minimum 20-year sentence. Garcia faces more than 23 years in prison when he is sentenced in January.
Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor Janice Albert agreed to recommend a 15-year sentence.
Garcia didn’t have any prior felony history.
Mendoza’s sister reported her brother’s disappearance to Skagit County sheriff’s deputies a day after he left the area. He had told his girlfriend he was going to meet someone in Everett to collect a debt.
Witnesses told detectives that Alejandre owed Mendoza thousands of dollars for cocaine.
Mendoza’s remains were discovered two months later in the 16100 block of Dubuque Road. He had been shot three times.
Garcia spoke with homicide detectives on numerous occasions during the investigation. He admitted that he knew “something bad was going to happen” to Mendoza, according to court records.
He and Alejandre purchased rubber gloves and bleach before meeting with Mendoza.
Detectives were told that Garcia and Alejandre hid a shotgun in a barn. Alejandre shot Mendoza as he walked toward the barn and then robbed him, court papers said.
Prosecutors alleged the two men dragged Mendoza’s body into the woods and left him there. Man trackers later found drag patterns from the property where the two suspects were visiting to where the victim’s body was discovered.
The two men were accused of using bleach and a hose to try to clean up the blood that had pooled on the ground. They abandoned Mendoza’s car in a Marysville parking lot.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.