PASCO – A Pasco man is accused of leaving a beaten woman outside to die because he feared getting into trouble if he called 911.
Joe Cruz Garza, 56, is currently being held in the Franklin County Jail for violating a court protection order that was supposed to keep him away from 24-year-old Breanna Gooldy.
Garza is accused of leaving her by the door of a travel trailer where she had been staying. It was in a fenced area behind the Shopping Spot convenience store because he was afraid he would be in trouble if police found out they had been together.
The next morning on Nov. 6 he called 911 shortly after 7:30 a.m. to report Gooldy was outside of a trailer inside a fenced compound behind the store.
When officers arrived they found her barely alive and severely bruised, said Pasco police. An ambulance rushed her to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, where she died 11 hours later.
After initially investigating it as a homicide, an autopsy determined that her injuries didn’t lead to her death.
The Franklin County Coroner’s Office hasn’t determined why she died. And it’s unclear who beat her up and when.
Police soon learned that Garza had been previously ordered by a Pasco Municipal Court judge to stay away from Gooldy, police Sgt. Brad Gregory wrote in an affidavit.
Garza previously had violated that order twice – once on March 12 and again on May 28.
Witnesses told police that Gooldy had been staying at his trailer for weeks.
While he initially claimed that she climbed into the fenced area, he later admitted that she was “acting erratically and eventually laid down in front of the door to the trailer” on Nov. 5, according to court documents.
He was arrested for violating the court order shortly after she was found and remains in jail on $100,000 bail. He appeared via video link in Franklin County Superior Court on Tuesday.
Pasco police said they forwarded their report into Gooldy’s death to Franklin County prosecutors last week, according to a Facebook post. They are recommending that Garza face a manslaughter charge for not getting help for Gooldy.
Prosecutor Shawn Sant and Deputy Prosecutor Dave Corkrum are reviewing the investigation, Deputy Prosecutor Frank Jenny said in court on Tuesday.
Garza’s public defense attorney Charles Dow told the judge that Garza is not a danger to the community.
He pointed out that most of Garza’s convictions are old and are not violent offenses. His last felony was for possessing drugs in 2015, before that he had a 2010 conviction for taking a vehicle and a 2008 sentence for possessing a controlled substance.
Dow argued that Garza should be allowed to be released. He questioned whether Garza should be facing a criminal charge for failing to help a woman he wasn’t legally supposed to be around.
Jenny disagreed, pointing out that between felonies and misdemeanors, Garza has convictions for 69 crimes over the years. And he noted that judges have issued 65 warrants for him because he didn’t show up for court hearings.
He recommended keeping the bail at $100,000. Judge Dave Petersen agreed.
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