The Hoopfest gunman who opened fire on rival gang members last year, injuring three bystanders in the downtown Spokane crowd, pleaded guilty today to assault charges.
Miguel C. Garcia, 19, was originally charged with 10 counts of attempted first-degree murder but instead pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree assault and unlawful possession of a firearm. He’s expected to serve nearly nine years in prison but sentencing was delayed until April 12.
Because he used a gun in the commission of the assaults, six years of the agreed upon 105-month sentence would be served as part of a weapon enhancement.
“I think this was a fair outcome for all parties,” Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Garvin said.
Defense attorney David Partovi, and the attorneys for several other defendants, initially complained that Garvin overcharged the case with the multiple counts of attempted first-degree murder. But Partovi said Garvin easily negotiated the settlement.
“I think it’s fair. I don’t want him to do that kind of time, but our chances at trial were limited,” Partovi said of his client. “I do think he did act in self defense, but he was looking at 30 years. It was a complicated set of facts.”
Garcia; Adam Doe, 19; Marquis D. Johnson, 22; and Rashjel C. “Reggie” Cage, 24, were charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, 10 counts of attempted first-degree murder and single counts of riot and unlawful possession of a firearm.
All four men were arrested June 26 after witnesses said Cage handed a gun to Garcia, who then fired three times, striking three bystanders at Hoopfest. The victims all suffered mostly minor wounds to the legs or feet.
Two of the intended shooting victims, Kalen J. Bedford and Andre Conway, were members of a rival gang, police said.
After complaints were raised about the initial charges, Garvin later reduced the charges to five counts of first-degree assault and one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault, along with riot and firearms charges. Doe also was charged with third-degree assault after a Spokane police officer said the teen struggled violently when he was arrested with the gun used in the shooting.
All of the other defendants have entered pleas. Garcia’s case was the last to be completed, Garvin said.
“I feel like the charges, as amended, were appropriate. The victims were consulted,” he said.
Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen told Garcia that the charges constitute his second strike of a most serious offense.
“It’s not very often that I take a plea on a strike offense from someone who is 19 years old,” she said. “This has to be the last time you get into trouble.”
Eitzen then explained that another similar conviction would mean Garcia will go to prison for life without the possibility of parole. She also explained that his release conditions will most likely bar him from associating with known gang members.
At the end of the hearing, two unidentified young men entered the courtroom and flashed hand-gang signs at Garcia, who was already handcuffed and didn’t reply.