OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A jury began deliberating Tuesday in the case of a former medical resident accused of killing four people with ties to an Omaha medical school, including a young boy.
Attorneys for Anthony Garcia spent nearly four hours in closing arguments, wrapping up more than three weeks of testimony. They sought to poke holes in the prosecutors' case, including questioning the truthfulness of a former exotic dancer who testified that Garcia told her he had once "killed a young boy and an old woman."
Garcia, 42, of Terra Haute, Indiana, faces a possible death sentence if convicted. The jury deliberated until 8 p.m. Tuesday but did not reach a verdict. It will reconvene Wednesday morning to resume deliberations.
Garcia is charged with first-degree murder and other counts in the 2008 stabbing deaths of 11-year-old Thomas Hunter, the son of Creighton University School of Medicine faculty member Dr. William Hunter, and the family's housekeeper, 57-year-old Shirley Sherman. He is also charged with the 2013 Mother's Day deaths of a Creighton pathology doctor, Roger Brumback, and his wife, Mary.
Prosecutors argue the killings were motivated by Garcia's long-simmering rage over being fired in 2001 by the two doctors from the Creighton medical school's residency program.
Chicago attorney Robert Motta Jr. questioned prosecutors' timeline of the 2013 killings, referring to a defense expert who testified he believed the deaths occurred much later, when eyewitness testimony and credit card receipts put Garcia at a West Des Moines, Iowa, hotel.
Prosecutors pointed to online video taken by the Brumbacks' daughter on the afternoon police believe they were killed in their home, showing them in the same clothes they were wearing when their bodies were found. Prosecutors also said a daily journal Brumback's wife kept had no entry for May 12, 2013, reinforcing that she was killed that day.
The defense expert based his belief that the Brumbacks were killed later on the state of rigor mortis of the bodies.
"They want to talk about journals and FaceTime," Motta said. "I want to talk about science."
Prosecutors presented a mountain of circumstantial evidence in the case, including credit card and cellphone records placing Garcia in and around Omaha the day the Brumbacks were killed. One receipt showed Garcia eating a meal at a chicken wings restaurant within two hours of when police believe the Brumbacks were killed.
"I'm sure the wings at Wing Stop are good, but are they so good that you'd come all the way from Indiana for them?" Deputy County Attorney Brenda Beadle asked the jury, later adding that Garcia was in Omaha for only four hours.
Prosecutors also showed a search performed on Garcia's computer tablet of another Creighton medical school faculty member's home on May 10, 2013. One of the counts against Garcia includes an attempted break-in at that home on the same day the Brumbacks were killed. Prosecutors say Garcia pushed in a back door of the home, but fled when the home's alarm went off.
According to phone records, immediately after that attempted break-in, a search was made on Garcia's smartphone for the Brumback's address.
Prosecutors also showed gruesome crime scene and autopsy photos of the bodies — including one showing 11-year-old Thomas Hunter lying in a pool of blood with a large kitchen knife buried in his neck. At least one juror wiped away tears after the photo was shown. Garcia never looked up at the photos and remained silent throughout the closing arguments.