Shooting suspect said victims were demons — (Ventura County Star)

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Ventura County Star (CA)

June 28, 1997

Author: Bruce McLean, staff writer

Miguel Hugo Garcia arrived at Jim Alexander’s remote Ojai home with a case of pricey wine and some sushi a present for the elderly man Garcia considered one of his best friends. Hours later with the sound of growling animals filling his head Garcia watched Alexander’s face twist into the face of the devil and noticed he had a tail. Alexander’s daughter Helen Giardina who was also at the home had transformed into a demon seducer attempting to taint him.

old son’s piercing scream in the background Garcia calmly told a 911 dispatcher exactly what he’d done to the father and daughter. “I shot Miss Alexander. I shot both of them.  The guns are empty. I can not find any more ammunition”.

Garcia said as Jimmy Giardina screamed “mommy” in the background. A medical examiner later found Giardina had been shot 12 times and her father six times. “We can now say we killed the devil” Garcia told the dispatcher. Concerned about the fate of the little boy whose scream was so high-pitched the dispatcher confused him for a girl the dispatcher asked where the child was. “His mother is dead. He’s on top of her” Garcia answered. The gut-wrenching and bizarre tape was played Friday at a Ventura County Municipal Court hearing on the evidence against Garcia who is accused of murdering the pair in Ojai. The sound of the screaming boy with his plea of “please don’t shoot me” and Garcia’s delusional rantings appeared to rattle the judge and veteran courtroom watchers. The 20-minute hearing which included only the tape and testimony from the deputy who peered into the Ojai house and saw the victims’ bullet-riddled bodies ended with Judge Rebecca Riley ordering the Glendale man to stand trial for the two slayings.

“There’s no question that Mr. Garcia killed these two people” Garcia’s lawyer James Farley said after the hearing. “The question is whether he was sane at the time he did it.” Giardina, 42, had been living with her father for two months as the 83-year-old battled colon cancer. Garcia who owns property next to Alexander’s had come by with some fine wine and sushi — apparently Alexander’s favorites — as a present for “his best friend” according to Farley. But at some point during the visit as the men watched television Garcia who had been battling mental health problems began to hear imaginary growling sounds Farley said. He pulled out a gun he’d been carrying and went to a corner of the house. Giardina approached him perhaps to take the gun away Farley said. “He said he looked into her eyes and saw the devil” Farley said. When Alexander came out of another room Garcia saw he had the devil’s face and a tail and he shot him Farley said.

Garcia has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Farley pointed to the tape for evidence of Garcia’s state of mind. “God told me to tell you ‘I am friend and not foe'” Garcia said to the dispatcher. He then asked her “Are you the devil or are you God? Answer! Thank you. You are God E I don’t have to worry about anything. You are Catholic ma’am.” “I’m not Christ Christ is not coming for awhile” Garcia said at another point. When the dispatcher asked Garcia where he shot the pair he answered “Everywhere.”

“I put pictures of my ancestors on the old man’s face” Garcia said. Investigators later found a photo of Garcia’s relatives resting atop Alexander’s face. At several points on the tape the dispatcher spoke to 3-year-old Jimmy Giardina calming him down then reassuring the boy when he pleaded for help. “Mike killed mommy and grandpa can you help?” the crying boy said. “They can’t wake up” Jimmy said later on the tape. Garcia told the boy to tell the dispatcher how smart he is. “I’m very smart I’m the smartest boy in the world.” Then Garcia grabbed the phone. “He is going to lead us into the 21st century and it will be a peaceful century.” When Jimmy asked Garcia not to shoot him Garcia replied “I won’t shoot you he’s my son.” The tape ended with Garcia and the boy leaving the house as deputies arrived. Deputy Bob Arnold testified that he saw Garcia walking from the home waving a white towel in surrender with one hand and clutching the boy in the other. “Our savior has arrived” Garcia repeated as he walked from the house according to Arnold. After the hearing Farley said Garcia’s depressant Prozac.

Although relatives wanted Garcia hospitalized Farley said the doctor did not think it was necessary. It’s not yet known if Garcia had stopped taking his medication or if the mixture of drugs and alcohol may have set him off Farley said. In the weeks before the shooting Garcia had pulled a gun and threatened a customer of his Pasadena mattress store. He had also assaulted and tried to escape from Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies when he was pulled over for a speeding ticket in Malibu police said.