The California Supreme Court has denied a petition by convicted murderer Mario Flavio Garcia to have his trial reviewed.
Garcia filed the petition in April following a Feb. 25 decision in which the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed his conviction of first-degree murder in the 2005 slaying and disappearance of Christie Wilson following a night of drinking and gambling at the Thunder Valley Casino in Placer County.
The state Supreme Court denied the petition June 10 and also ordered that the opinion of the appeal court be a non-published one, meaning it cannot be cited as legal precedent.
Garcia, 56, a former Auburn resident, is currently serving a state prison sentence of 59 years to life.
His appellate attorney contended that Placer County Superior Court Judge Larry D. Gaddis, who presided over the murder trial in 2006, committed errors in admitting evidence, giving instructions to the jurors and in allowing the jury verdict to stand.
The defendant’s attorney asserted that the evidence may have only been sufficient to support a conviction for involuntary manslaughter.
A three-member panel of judges in the appeal court disagreed.
‘There was sufficient evidence of first-degree murder on a felony murder theory predicated on kidnapping,’ the appeal court judges wrote.
Wilson, 27, who resided in Sacramento, was last seen at 1:13 a.m. on Oct. 5, 2005. Videotape from a surveillance camera at the casino showed her walking into the parking lot with Garcia and toward the defendant’s car.
The appeal court judges noted that the videotape showed her pulling away from Garcia on two occasions as he tried to take her by the arm or to put his arm around her, indicating she wanted no further activity with the defendant.
Wilson was never seen again and her own car remained in the casino parking lot for days until her boyfriend looked for it and found it.
A hair consistent with Wilson’s hair was found wedged in the door handle of Garcia’s car, the appeal court judges noted.
‘It required force to dislodge the hair from her head and (required) force to embed it in the exterior door handle,’ the judges wrote.
Evidence indicated that Wilson tried to fight off Garcia before she was subdued. Scratches and bruises were on Garcia’s face and body after Wilson’s disappearance. Tiny spots of blood containing a mixture of DNA consistent with that of Garcia and Wilson were found in his car.
‘During the fight, (the) defendant killed Wilson,’ the appeal court judges wrote. ‘He then disposed of her body in an unknown location.’
Placer County Deputy District Attorney Garen Horst, who prosecuted Garcia, praised the California Attorney General’s Office and Deputy Attorney General Robert Gezi for their handling of the matter at the state appeal level.
‘I appreciate their commitment to the case and to justice being served,’ Horst said.
The body of Christie Wilson remains missing. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Placer County Sheriff’s Department at (530) 889-7800 or the Placer County District Attorney’s Office at (916) 543-8000.
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