General Crime

* Ricardo Garcia jurors will decide Murder or Manslaughter in the killing of Solomone Zarate a Carlmont High School senior

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Jurors in Redwood City heard closing arguments today in the trial of a 19-year-old man accused of murdering a Carlmont High School senior at a party in 2008.The defense attorney for Ricardo Garcia said his client did in fact fatally shoot 17-year-old Solomone Zarate on Sept. 13, 2008 — but whether the killing was murder or voluntary manslaughter remains up to jurors.Prosecutor Al Giannini urged jurors this morning to convict Garcia of first-degree murder, saying, “All of the elements of murder have been met.” Giannini said during his closing argument, “The defendant armed himself by his own admission and integrated himself into a fight. There is no doubt he pulled out a gun and no doubt he shot him,” he said.According to Giannini, Garcia then stood over Zarate as he lay injured in the street and “emptied his gun” into him.”That is murder,” Giannini said.Defense attorney Charles Smith, however, said the shooting was not planned and does not warrant a first-degree murder conviction.”This killing was a rash, impulsive, sudden decision,” Smith said today, adding that he didn’t think the prosecution had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the killing was premeditated.In order to obtain a first-degree murder conviction, the jury must believe the killing was deliberate and premeditated. A second-degree murder conviction would mean the killing was either done on purpose, or that Garcia did something that would likely result in the victim’s death.Voluntary manslaughter, however, is imperfect self-defense, according to Smith.Giannini said there is no way the killing was done in self-defense, even though Garcia has claimed he was trying to help his friend during the fight.”Nobody expected Mr. Garcia to produce a gun and just open up in a crowd of people,” Giannini said. “But Mr. Garcia brought him down.”Prosecutors allege that Zarate and Garcia were members of rival street gangs and got involved in a fight at a party on Columbia Avenue near El Camino Real in unincorporated San Mateo County’s North Fair Oaks area that night.Zarate, a 5-foot-10-inch man who weighed 255 pounds and an alleged member of the Heller Street Tongan street gang, decided to “check,” or challenge, an opposing gang member at the party,Giannini said.He picked a suspected member of the North Fair Oaks gang, of which Garcia also allegedly belonged, according to Giannini.When Garcia saw his friend fighting with Zarate, he “jumped in immediately,” Giannini said, “to be the biggest, baddest gangster.”By this time there were people gathering outside the party watching the fight in the street, with some egging them on and others trying to pull the fighters apart.Giannini said Garcia pulled out his gun and fired one wild shot that hit the ground, but quickly pulled the trigger again, this time hitting Zarate.”If you’re acting other than to defend yourself, you lose your license to kill,” Giannini said of why he doesn’t believe the killing was done in self-defense.In order for it to be self-defense, “His state of mind has to really be just that he was defending himself,” Giannini said.In addition to murder, Garcia is charged with the special allegations of using a gun in a murder and committing a murder for the furtherance of a street gang. He is also charged with the special circumstance of being in a gang while committing a murder.If convicted of second-degree murder, he would face 50 years to life in prison, and if convicted of first-degree murder he would face 60 years to life in prison.A voluntary manslaughter conviction would carry a maximum sentence of 31 years in prison.Jurors began deliberating this afternoon.

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