NJ Supreme Court: Jersey City man in jail for 3.5 years due to slashing will get new trial


A Jersey City man who has already served three-and-a-half years of a seven year jail sentenced after being conviction of a slashing incident in 2017 will get a new trial after the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that admissible evidence was kept from a jury.

Gabriel Garcia. Photo via the New Jersey Department of Corrections.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“The video recording constituted extrinsic evidence that simultaneously contradicted
Detective Domenech’s testimony that she canvassed the crime scene looking for
witnesses and supported the family members’ testimony that they attempted to speak to
the police,” the court ruled today.

“It was admissible under N.J.R.E. 607(a), which permits introduction of relevant extrinsic evidence ‘[f]or the purpose of attacking or supporting the credibility of a witness.’”

Gabriel Garcia, 35, of Jersey City, was convicted of aggravated assault, causing serious bodily injury, and weapons charges back in August 11th, 2017.

The result of the four-day trial came after Garcia attacked his neighbor with a box cutter outside their home on Sip Avenue, cutting his face from his ear to his nose.

Jersey City Police Det. Janixza Domenech responded with backup, speaking with Raymond Urbanski, the victim, and taking a formal statement from his wife.

Their account was that Garcia was “blasting” his horn at 1 a.m. and when he went over to tell him to keep the noise down, he got out of the car and slashed his face.

However, Garcia’s account was much different, claiming that he honked on the horn three times before Urbanski began banging on his car roof and chased Garcia out of his car with a bottle – as well as two other armed men in pursuit.

Garcia claims he only used the box cutter as a weapon after Urbanski broke the bottle over his head.

Testimony from his mother, stepfather, and sister, along with Garcia’s own, went ignored at trial, where they also said police would not take an official statement from them.

A cell phone video corroborating this account was ruled inadmissible, a claim that was upheld by the appellate court, but the supreme court said this prevented Garcia from having a fair trial.

“Detective Domenech’s trial testimony that defendant’s parents did not ‘come forward’ implied that the parents lied when they testified that they attempted to give their account to the police at the scene,” today’s ruling says.

“The on-scene video of the family’s attempt to speak with the police, defendant submits, was relevant to prove that his parents’ testimony was not a recent fabrication but indeed the truth.”

Furthermore, the court argues that the only way to settle the conflict between Domenech and Garcia’s family.

“The prosecutor, moreover, dispelled any doubt about the relevance and importance of the withheld video when, based on Detective Domenech’s testimony, he urged the jury to reject the family members’ testimony, particularly the mother’s, because they failed to come forward at the scene.”

” … If the jury accepted the prosecutor’s argument that the family members testified falsely about coming forward to the police at the scene, the jury was entitled to reject the entirety of their testimony, including their testimony that defendant acted in self-defense.
Indeed, the court charged the jury on the ‘false in one, false in all’ doctrine.”

Since the fairness of the trial was compromised, the NJ Supreme Court is reversing the judgement to the appellate division where Garcia will be granted a new trial.

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