Taped statement allowed in murder trial

Only one of three taped statements by a murder defendant will be allowed at Jesus Garcia-Pena’s trial when it opens in October, a judge ruled Friday.

But that’s enough to satisfy the prosecution, deputy prosecutor Tobin Darrow said.

Garcia-Pena, 31, is one of three brothers initially charged with murder in the barroom shooting death of Jesus Garcia Ochoa on Aug. 31, 2003, at the Mi Barra tavern in Monroe.

Charges were dropped against Ventura Garcia-Pena, 45, and Jose Garcia-Pena, 36, pleaded guilty on Friday to two gross misdemeanor charges for obstructing the police investigation.

Only Jesus Garcia-Pena, who was arrested in Bakersfield, Calif., will go on trial for the shooting death.

Defense lawyer Anna Goykhman challenged three recorded statements in which her client allegedly made incriminating statements.

She said Monroe police Sgt. Eduardo Jany forced a confession by threatening him and his family during conversations in Spanish before the tape began recording the discussion.

The three brothers are Mexican nationals.

Two of the discussions occurred in early September in Bakersfield, soon after Jesus Garcia-Pena was arrested. Jany and police detective Barry Hatch interviewed him there.

Goykhman alleged that in brief exchanges in Spanish, Jany told her client about the death penalty in Washington, that his brothers also were in jeopardy and that he had better cooperate if he wanted to save his life.

Jesus Garcia-Pena testified that he felt threatened by Jany and he had no other choice but say what he did in the taped interviews, which were referred to as confessions in court.

Jany was unavailable to testify. He is in the Middle East serving with the U. S. Marines.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Gerald Knight ruled that statements given with Jany in attendance on Sept. 5 and 6, 2003, were inadmissible.

However, a taped conversation with Hatch could be admitted, the judge said. The conversation was taped in early October as Hatch brought Jesus Garcia-Pena to the Snohomish County Jail from the Seattle airport.

Darrow said he will be able to use that statement in trial.

Knight ruled that the October threat was far enough in time away from any threat that might have been made in September.

Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or haley@heraldnet.com.

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