General Crime

* Gene Combs trial begins for killing Fairfield City Councilman Matt Garcia

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Attorneys gave their opening statements this morning in the Solano County trial of the second man charged with killing Fairfield City Councilman Matt Garcia.Chief Deputy District Attorney George Williamson told the 11 men and three women on the jury that Gene Combs was not the shooter, but that he is still charged with Garcia’s murder.The trial of the alleged shooter, Henry Don Williams, 33 of Fairfield, concluded last week and the jury is still deliberating this morning.Garcia, 22, was shot once in the head in the 5000 block of Silverado Drive the evening of Sept. 1, 2008. He was kept on life support for several days while his family donated seven of his organs.The prosecution alleges Combs and Williams went in Williams’ girlfriend Nicole Stewart’s car to find a drug dealer who owed Combs $50. Williamson said they mistook Garcia for the drug dealer and that  Williams exited the car and shot Garcia. Combs stayed in the back seat, according to Williamson.Williamson said Combs bought the gun used to kill Garcia, a .22-caliber Colt handgun, three weeks earlier and gave it to Williams. Both men were agitated that Combs had been ripped off in a drug deal, Williamson said.”This defendant is the catalyst. He got the gun, and he got the shooter to solve his problem. The bottom line is Matt Garcia is dead,” Williamson said.Defense attorney William Pendergast III told the jury the issue is  whether the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Combs knew Williams had a gun at the time and was going to fire it.”Did he know it was going to happen and did he aid and abet?” Pendergast said.Pendergast said Stewart will testify she never saw a gun or heard Williams and Combs mention one.Combs told Williams twice that the car that passed them was not Estes’ vehicle, Pendergast said.Combs and Stewart were talking about Stewart’s pregnancy and were not watching Williams when he got out of the car, Pendergast said. Stewart will testify that the first mention of the gun was when Combs and Williams discussed getting rid of it after Williams got back in the car.Williams gave the gun to a friend and told him to “throw it in the water,” Pendergast said. The gun was never recovered.

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