A friend of a man accused of killing a Livermore woman in 2002 is a key witness in the man’s trial, a prosecutor and a defense attorney agreed today.
In his opening statement in Bryan Vulgamore’s trial on a charge that he murdered 24-year-old Cecilia Garcia on Jan. 8, 2002, prosecutor Mark Melton said Vulgamore’s friend Tony Gregorio initially provided an alibi for Vulgamore but later retracted it and told police that Vulgamore admitted to him that he killed her.
Gregorio “was willing to lie” on behalf of Vulgamore but “ultimately admitted that his alibi for him was false,” Melton said.
But Vulgamore’s defense lawyer, Brian Hong, said he believes that when Gregorio takes the witness stand he will testify that he doesn’t remember most of what he told police in 2002, including whether he lied to them.
Hong said Gregorio’s memory is unreliable because in 2002 he had been taking large quantities of methamphetamine daily for seven years and also used other drugs.
The defense lawyer said that when police talked to Gregorio two weeks after Garcia was killed, he was so drugged up that interviewing him was “an exercise in futility.”
Melton said Gregorio has given contradictory statements about whether Vulgamore admitted to him that he killed Garcia, but said Gregorio has clearly retracted his story that he picked up Vulgamore in his car before Garcia was killed, which initially seemed to indicate that he couldn’t have been at her house when the murder occurred.
Garcia was found dead by her father on Jan. 8, 2002, in the shower of her home on Mayten Drive in Livermore. An autopsy determined that she died of asphyxiation due to drowning and blunt injuries to her neck.
Vulgamore, 38, also known as Bryan Davis, wasn’t arrested in connection with Garcia’s death until January 2010.
Livermore police said cellphone records, witness statements and admissions by Vulgamore to police and other witnesses tied him to Garcia’s death.
But Hong said today that there really wasn’t any new evidence in 2010 and there still is “no physical evidence connecting Mr. Vulgamore to Cecilia Garcia’s death.”
Melton said he believes that Vulgamore strangled Garcia but Hong said there’s no clear evidence to prove the prosecutor’s allegation.
Hong said Garcia had injured her head in an accident at work about two weeks before she died and had suffered from headaches and swelling to her head.
Many family members of both Garcia and Vulgamore are attending his trial in the courtroom of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Vernon Nakahara.
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