Murder suspect, plucked from Mexico, may be a first for Bibb County authorities

Telegraph staffJanuary 10, 2013 

Half a decade ago, Carlos Jose de Jesus Garcia slipped out of Macon a murder suspect, only to land in prison for robbery in his native Mexico.

In 2008, police here found out he was locked up there, but extradition proved difficult.

Until Wednesday.

He was flown back to Georgia escorted by a Macon cop and a deputy U.S. Marshal in what is believed to be Bibb County’s first-ever international fetching of a suspect.

Thursday afternoon, Garcia faced a judge about the 2007 death of 22-year-old Antonio Valdovinos.

“Mr. Garcia, you have been charged with murder,” Magistrate Cedric Leslie said. “Do you understand?”

Garcia, 35, shook his head no.

“You do not understand that you shot a man and killed him?” Leslie asked.

After a brief pause, Garcia said he doesn’t speak English. Leslie wasn’t buying it.

The judge informed Garcia that he’d have to stay in jail a couple of weeks until a commitment hearing with an interpreter could be arranged. He is charged with murder, and only a Superior Court judge can set bond.

Leslie then told Garcia to go “to the chapel,” an area where prisoners at the Bibb jail wait to return to their cells.

After Garcia shuffled out of the courtroom, the judge said, “Now, he understood when I said, ‘Go back to the chapel.’ ... OK. So, play the game.”

Garcia’s trouble in Macon is thought to stem from a 2007 spat with Valdovinos over a woman.

Valdovinos was shot several times in the torso on April 29, 2007, outside Terrace Park Apartments on Williamson Road. Afterward, Garcia couldn’t be found. At one point Macon police sent a remote-controlled robot into a local residence where they thought he might be hiding. He wasn’t there.

U.S. Marshals working in Mexico City found Garcia after members of the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force learned he had family in that country, said Deputy U.S. Marshal John Edgar. “We found him quick. ... We continue to look until we find them.”

Marshals tried to retrieve Garcia about a year and a half ago. They even sent a team to Texas, but a Mexican judge wouldn’t release him.

Garcia was arrested in a robbery case in Mexico about the same time Marshals figured out he was south of the border.

Garcia was sentenced to six years, but was later paroled. Once that happened, a Mexican judge released him to be brought back to the U.S. on the murder charge.

Garcia was dressed in street clothes, his restraints hidden.

“We don’t let passengers know he’s being detained,” Edgar said. Garcia was flown out of Mexico City on a commercial flight Wednesday.

It marked the end of an international legal journey for Bibb prosecutor Pamela White-Colbert.

“It was an interesting process considering nobody else had done it here,” she said. “It’s completely different from what we do for a state-to-state (transfer). ... It’s a little bit more complicated.”

Paperwork channeled through federal authorities had to be translated and reprinted in Spanish.

White-Colbert had to detail much of the case against Garcia, including photographs and statements from witnesses and detectives.

“They would not extradite if we were looking for the death penalty,” she said, which prosecutors were not seeking.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398. To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.

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