A suspect in the Easter morning shooting of a 16-year-old Yakima boy is being sent to the Washington State Penitentiary for medical care.
Yakima County Superior Court Judge David Elofson approved a request from prosecutors and the county Department of Corrections to transfer Nathaniel Orlando Garcia to the Walla Walla prison so he can receive treatment for wounds he received in the April 21 shooting that left David Martinez, 16, dead.
But Garcia’s attorney said the 20-year-old would be better cared for if he were released to his family and treated locally.
“He’s not a threat to the community, he doesn’t have any criminal history and he doesn’t have any violent history,” attorney Richard Smith said. “Do we think this is the proper way to provide for his care? No, but the judge didn’t want to release him.”
Also, Garcia is still presumed innocent and should not be put with those who have been convicted of crimes, Smith said.
But Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Garrison Hersey said the county jail staff determined that, based on Garcia’s condition and need for treatment, he would be better in an infirmary setting than being transported to and from a local hospital on a regular basis.
“This is the best option given the circumstances,” Hersey said after Friday’s hearing. Garcia will be housed in the medical wing of the prison.
But Smith said that makes the county liable for Garcia’s condition when he is transported back to Yakima for hearings in the trial and returned to the prison.
Smith said Garcia, who was wounded in the incident, has a colostomy, lost one toe to a bone infection and must receive regular infusions as part of his medical treatment. During one trip to a local hospital, there was confrontation between the jail transport officers and a member of Martinez’s family, Smith said, which prompted Garcia to be put under protective custody while he was there.
Martinez was walking with a group in the 1800 block of Sliger Road around 2 a.m. when they were confronted by Garcia and another armed man, according to a police affidavit. The men asked the boys if they were gang members, and when they said they were not, the men drew guns on Martinez and the others and demanded their money, the affidavit said.
At that point, Martinez grabbed one of the assailants and threw him to the ground, according to the affidavit. A video from a nearby business showed Garcia run over to where Martinez and the other assailant were fighting before shots were fired, the affidavit said. In the footage, Martinez was seen on the ground, while Garcia hopped on one foot before he fell to the ground as well, the affidavit said.
Garcia was in Harborview Medical Center until August, when he was released and taken into custody shortly afterward.