Sunday, May 27, 2018
News Roundup

Testimony details brutality in trial on Pasco rape case

NEW PORT RICHEY — The gun was pointed at her the whole time, the victim said, except when the rapist was taking off his pants and again when it was over.

He took her phone and threw her bag at her, she said. As he was leaving her in the woods, he wiped her off with a towel and told her not to say anything if she wanted to live.

"He made me sit up again," the woman testified in court Thursday. "He pointed the gun at my face and asked if there was anything I'd like to say before he killed me."

Then he drove off. The woman quickly put on her clothes and followed his headlights out into the road. She flagged down some cars and a woman called 911.

It was February 2012, and the woman had been walking home from a friend's house on U.S. 19. It was still light out.

Tommy Garcia, 40, of Port Richey is charged with kidnapping and sexual battery and could face life in prison if convicted. He's also charged with three other rapes, between December 2011 and this incident. Those cases have not yet gone to trial.

Two of the women were admitted prostitutes; the victim in this case was not.

Assistant State Attorney Eva Vergos described how it should have been just another uneventful night for the victim. She described how Garcia stopped and asked the woman if she needed a ride, and how the woman politely refused.

The third time, he produced the handgun through an open window.

When she got in the car, he pressed the gun against her head and drove to a wooded area southwest of Utica Drive and Rhodes Road in Hudson. He took off his pants in the car and forced her to perform oral sex on him. He threatened to shoot her if she refused. Then he made her get out of the car and raped her in the dirt.

Vergos said the victim had a rape exam, and DNA from the scene "conclusively matched Garcia."

Garcia's lawyers, Amanda Sellers and Jenna Finkelstein, declined to make opening statements in the case. During cross examination of the victim, they pointed out inconsistencies between her testimony and her written statement.

Besides the DNA, Vergos said there was another key piece of evidence in the case. When Garcia stole the victim's phone after the rape to make sure she couldn't call for help, he gave it to his 8-year-old son. Detectives later found it with the boy.

The trial is expected to end today.

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