News, Culture & Society

Death sentence for ex-doctor who killed 4 people in Nebraska

A court descended into chaos as a judge involved in handing the death sentence to a doctor who killed four people in bizarre revenge attacks collapsed and had to be carried from a courthouse on a stretcher. 

Anthony Garcia, 45, of Indiana entered the courtroom in a wheelchair and appeared to sleep through the hearing as a three-judge panel sentenced him to death. 

The judges, who heard arguments earlier this year during the sentencing phase of Garcia’s trial, also had the option of life in prison.  

But as Garcia was sentenced Douglas County Judge Gary Randall, one of the panel, collapsed suffering a medical episode and had to be removed from court on a stretcher.

Anthony Garcia slumps in his chair at the Douglas County Court in Omaha, Neb., Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. 

Anthony Garcia slumps in his chair at the Douglas County Court in Omaha, Neb., Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. 

Douglas County Judge Gary Randall is taken from the courtroom by gurney after feeling unwell during the sentencing of former doctor Anthony Garcia, in Omaha, Nebraska, who killed four people in revenge for being fired in 2001

Douglas County Judge Gary Randall is taken from the courtroom by gurney after feeling unwell during the sentencing of former doctor Anthony Garcia, in Omaha, Nebraska, who killed four people in revenge for being fired in 2001

Gage County District Judge Rick Schreiner took over, explaining that Randall had undergone a medical procedure earlier in the week that caused him extreme back pain.

Garcia was convicted in 2016 for two attacks – that occurred five years apart – on families connected to Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha. 

Prosecutors argued the killings were motivated by Garcia’s long-simmering rage over being fired in 2001 by Dr. William Hunter and another Creighton pathology doctor, Roger Brumback.

Some of the victims’ relatives testified Friday, including Jeff Sherman, whose mother was fatally stabbed alongside Hunter’s young son when she worked at the Hunter family’s home in 2008.

“I’m left with constant images from courtroom pictures of what happened to my mom,” Sherman said. “I can’t ever get those images out of my head.”

Investigators said Garcia fatally stabbed 11-year-old Thomas Hunter and 57-year-old Shirlee Sherman at the family’s home in an upscale Omaha neighborhood. Police collected a slew of evidence but struggled to find a suspect in the killings.

The case went cold in the following years. But that changed with the 2013 Mother’s Day deaths of Brumback and his wife, Mary, in their Omaha home. Police recognized similarities in the 2008 and 2013 killings, and Garcia was quickly eyed as a suspect. He was arrested two months later during a traffic stop in southern Illinois.

On Friday, Thomas Hunter’s mother, Dr. Claire Hunter, spoke of the agony of losing her young son so violently. She said the boy “was a joy in everybody’s life.”

“You can’t begin to enumerate what an event like has had on us, on the entire community,” she said after Garcia was sentenced.

Dr. Claire Hunter, mother of Thomas Hunter, speaks to reporters outside the Douglas County Court

Dr. Claire Hunter, mother of Thomas Hunter, speaks to reporters outside the Douglas County Court

Garcia’s parents and brother, who live in California, also attended the hearing. They were tearful as the verdict was read.

His brother, Fernando Garcia, said it was hard for his family to imagine his brother committing the crimes.

“We just want the victims’ families to know we do pray for them. We feel their pain,” he said. “We’re sorry those things took place. We’re not an evil family. We hope they find peace somehow.”

During the trial, prosecutors presented massive amounts of circumstantial evidence, including credit card and cellphone records placing Garcia in and around Omaha the day the Brumbacks were killed. One receipt showed Garcia eating a meal at a chicken wings restaurant within two hours of when police believe the Brumbacks were attacked.

Fred Garcia, father of Anthony Garcia, speaks to reporters outside the Douglas County Court in Omaha, Neb., Friday, September 14, 2018

Fred Garcia, father of Anthony Garcia, speaks to reporters outside the Douglas County Court in Omaha, Neb., Friday, September 14, 2018

Prosecutors also presented evidence that Garcia had sought to attack another Creighton medical school faculty member on May 10, 2013 – the same day the Brumbacks were killed. Prosecutors said Garcia pushed in a back door of that woman’s home but fled when the home’s alarm went off. Police believe he then found the Brumbacks’ address on his smartphone and attacked them.

Roger Brumback was shot in the doorway of his home and then stabbed. His wife was stabbed to death, much the same way Thomas Hunter and Shirlee Sherman had been stabbed, according to investigators.

Anthony Garcia slumps in his chair at the Douglas County Court in Omaha, Neb., Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

Anthony Garcia slumps in his chair at the Douglas County Court in Omaha, Neb., Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

Nebraska had not executed an inmate in more than 20 years until last month, when Carey Dean Moore died by lethal injection for the 1979 shooting deaths of two Omaha cab drivers.

However, the state’s mode of execution remains riddled with controversy and legal challenges in the face of difficulty in obtaining some of the drugs used to carry out lethal injection.

Under Nebraska law, Garcia’s sentence will be automatically appealed.

Douglas County Judge Gary Randall is taken from the courtroom by gurney - the court was told he underwent a procedure earlier in the week and was experiencing extreme pain

Douglas County Judge Gary Randall is taken from the courtroom by gurney – the court was told he underwent a procedure earlier in the week and was experiencing extreme pain

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.