Murder trial of Jimmy Garcia underway
He is charged in the death of Jones in 2014
DEL NORTE — More than nine years after officers with the Monte Vista Police Department (MVPD) were dispatched at 6:45 a.m. to a house on Madison Street where they found Jacque Jones, 23, unconscious and non-responsive, Jones’ family is getting the trial they have advocated for each year since the young woman’s death on that morning in 2014.
Jimmy Garcia, 45, of Monte Vista, went on trial this week in Rio Grande County District Court where he is charged with murder in the first degree with deliberation (class 1 felony), murder in the second degree (class 2 felony) and tampering with physical evidence (class 6 felony) in alleged connection with Jones’ death.
Although more information will be learned as the case progresses, at this point, the story can only be told from the perspective of Jones’ family, who has been repeatedly vocal in speaking with the media, about what limited information the MVPD has been willing or able to release and what was presented during the 2021 preliminary hearing when Garcia’s case was bound over to district court.
It should be noted that, during preliminary hearings, the burden of proof for the prosecution is much lower than in a trial and the proceedings favor the prosecution as defense counsel is not allowed to call witnesses but only to cross-examine those called to the stand by the state.
As was told to the Valley Courier in an interview with Jones-Kelleher, Jacque Jones’ mother, Jones and Garcia had been introduced by a mutual friend and quickly became involved. Jones’ family alleges that Garcia then became abusive.
In the months before her death, Jones was in a rehabilitation facility where, her mother says, she decided to end the relationship. After completing rehab, she rented and moved into an apartment in Alamosa. Before she died, Jones-Kelleher said, Jones went to Garcia’s house to get her car, insisting she go alone as “Garcia would think she was scared of him.” On the night of March 25, Jones called her grandmother, reminding her to pick her up the next morning for an appointment.
When police were dispatched in the early morning hours of March 26, 2014, they were sent to the 400 block of Madison Street, which is where Garcia lived. There, they discovered Jones was non-responsive and ultimately declared deceased at the scene.
Garcia, who was at the house, told police that, when he found Jones, she had committed suicide by hanging herself with an electrical cord looped over the closet door.
In a series of three different, subsequent determinations by three different coroners from two counties, the cause of Jones’ death was first ruled as “unknown”, then changed to “suicide” then back to “unknown.”
Officers who were originally on the scene had persistent suspicions about how Jones died and, for a period of time, continued an intensive investigation. But, as years passed, the case grew “cold”.
In 2018, Officer (now Sergeant) Michael Martinez, who had recently been hired by MVPD, was directed by then-Police Chief John Rosecrans to reopen the case. Over the months that followed, Martinez conducted a painstaking review of the evidence that was collected by law enforcement. Garcia was identified as a suspect in the case.
Cold cases are difficult to prosecute, but then-District Attorney Robert Willett told the Valley Courier, he “wanted closure for the family”. Toward that end, Willett and Martinez took the case Martinez had built to a group of 30 prosecutors where Martinez presented the evidence.
The attorneys felt the case warranted prosecution.
According to a 2020 press release from MVPD Chief George Dingfelder, the department “logged hundreds of hours reinvestigating” Jacque’s death, including “numerous pieces of evidence” being analyzed by forensic scientists with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), all which led to Garcia’s arrest on Dec. 7, 2020 by officers with the MVPD and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) for his alleged role in the death of Jacque Jones.
Court proceedings began on Monday with jury selection completed on Tuesday afternoon, followed by opening arguments made by counsel. The case is expected to go through Friday, Sept. 29.
Garcia is being represented by David Lipka and Tracy Eubanks. Amy Beard and Jacob Matthews, both with the District Attorney’s office in the 1st Judicial District, are prosecuting the case. District Judge Kimberly Cortez is presiding.