Family members of slain Fairfield City Councilman Matt Garcia began crying as the verdict was read in Solano County Superior Court in
Vallejo today, finding Henry Don Williams guilty of first-degree murder.
The jury also found true an enhancement that Williams, a 33-year-old Fairfield resident, used a gun to kill Garcia on Sept. 1, 2008, in Cordelia. He is scheduled to be sentenced in July and could face 50 years to life in prison.
A different jury is still deliberating in the trial of Williams' co-defendant, 46-year-old Suisun City resident Gene Allan Combs. The two men were tried in separate, back-to-back trials in Vallejo.
Garcia, 22, was shot once in the head outside the home of his friend Jennifer Tarbell in the 5000 block of Silverado Drive in Cordelia around 8:15 p.m. He was on life support until his family donated his organs.
The prosecution said Williams and Combs had gone to a drug dealer's home that evening on Silverado Drive because he owed Combs $50 for methamphetamine Combs never got.
The dealer was not home and Combs and Williams were leaving in Williams' Dodge Intrepid driven by Williams' pregnant girlfriend Nicole Stewart just as Garcia arrived in his Cadillac to visit Tarbell, according to the prosecution.
Williams told Stewart to pull over because he thought the drug dealer might be driving the Cadillac, according to testimony at Williams' trial.
Chief Deputy District Attorney George Williamson told the jury at Combs' trial that Garcia made a U-turn and pulled up behind the parked Dodge Intrepid before exiting his car to greet Tarbell.
Williamson said Williams got out of his car and fired eight shots at Garcia, who he mistook for the drug dealer.
Combs' attorney William Pendergast told the jury Combs remained in the back seat of the Dodge talking to Stewart about her pregnancy. He said Combs did not know Williams was armed or that he intended to shoot anyone.
Williamson said Combs is still accountable for the murder because he bought the gun and gave it to Williams, and he recruited Williams to help him settle the score with the drug dealer.
Williamson said both men were agitated about Combs being ripped off.
The jury in Combs' trial is expected to resume their deliberations on Wednesday.
"It's been a very emotional day for the family," Garcia's father, who is also named Matt Garcia, said outside the courtroom after the verdict was read.
"I've been a total mess the whole week, but I'm glad it's over," Garcia's grandmother Chris Garcia said.
She said that Garcia's death has brought the family closer together and that, with help from God, they would get through the rest of Combs' trial together as well.
"There's not one day that I don't wake up and I can see him and I can feel him," Chris Garcia said of Garcia.
She said she believed Garcia's killers were out there to murder someone that night and her grandson just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"My son was murdered for no reason," Garcia's mother Teresa Courtemanche said.
She said she wanted to thank the jury for their diligence and for coming up the guilty verdict.
"They weighed everything and looked at everything," she said.
She also pointed out that Williams and Combs were the types of people that Garcia had been trying to help as a city councilman.
Garcia's stepfather, Raymond Courtemanche, said he was relieved by the verdict.
Everyone said they were hopeful that the jury in Combs' trial would convict Combs as well.