April 21, 2003
My Personal Loss and the Fight with Our Justice System
On April 29th, 2002, my day started like any other day. My husband, Deputy Dave March, got up at 4:30 am, to start work at 6:00am. He kissed me goodbye, and left for work. It was a beautiful spring day. I tried to call my husband around 10:15 am. I only got his voice mail. I knew he listened to the message, but I never was able to talk to him again.
Dave pulled over a vehicle around 10:40 a.m., in Irwindale, California. Unknown to my husband, the driver of the car, Armando “Chato” Garcia, had a 9mm handgun in his possession. During an attempt to pat down the driver, Dave was shot close range in the chest, in a gap where the vest did not provide protection. Then he was shot again, in the head, executed by his killer. Garcia fled the scene. Dave most likely died instantly. A Good Samaritan used his radio to call for help.
Dave was rushed to Huntington Memorial Hospital. With all possible medical efforts, they weren’t able to save Dave. Dave went to be with the Lord. Something, he never feared. He assured me of his conviction and love for God.
At the time of the incident, I was at work. My personal friend, also a Deputy, came to be my support. I was not aware of the severity of the situation as of yet. The Sheriff’s Department was searching for my place of employment. I had just started this new job, in January. I was to hear the news that changed my life as I knew it….forever. I was told that he had been shot. I prayed and tried to stay positive, however, I knew in my heart, that it couldn’t be good. I keep saying out loud, for Dave to “Fight honey, we need you, you’re my partner, and I can’t do this without you.”
We arrived at the hospital and the expression on their faces told it all. I saw the sorrow in their eyes. I began to panic. The Sheriff, Lee Baca, gave me the worst news I ever feared hearing. I had lost my hero.
How could this happen? Dave was 6’5. He was such a natural protector. He was so strong. (working out five days a week) He absolutely loved this job. How could someone kill a God loving man??? Why would God take a man of good….so evil could flee? How could I go on in this world without my personal protector? My best friend and the love of my life, was ripped away from me……for what??!!!
I learned that the suspected killer had already fled to Mexico. I also learned that he had an extensive criminal history. He had been deported on three prior occasions and was wanted for two other attempted murders. Armando Garcia should have been serving jail time the day my husband was killed.
Then the most devastating news, our detectives had a good idea where he might be in Mexico. But unfortunately, Mexico has a Treaty with the United States that prevents the extradition of a murderer facing first-degree murder charges. The courts of Mexico are against life in prison or the death penalty. Because he fled to Mexico, he would be protected by this Treaty. How outrageous! Armando Garcia committed the murder here, in the United States. This creap chose to leave Mexico, and reside here in California. Why would Mexico push their views of justice on our county and on our family?
The victim lost his life protecting the residents of Los Angeles County. Dave was, for lack of other words, “sucker punched”. This evil man took my husband’s life – instead of leaving him wounded – to avoid prosecution. He shouldn’t be rewarded with a lesser jail time just because he fled to a country (Mexico) that does not fully or properly punish murderers.
I feel it is only fair, that if you commit a crime in ANY country, you are accountable to their laws. I haven’t met any person yet who disagrees with that sentiment.
The frustration continues. Our ongoing efforts to plead our case to our elected officials, has accomplished little. Armando Garcia is still a free man in Mexico on “vacation”, while our family is dealing with loosing our loved one. We have made efforts to write to Congress, and to the President.
Thankfully, our District Attorney, Steve Cooley and his staff, has done everything in their effort to secure justice. It has been a broken system, for many years, with little or no improvement. It might take years, but in the meantime….Mexico has not guaranteed our family any fairness or justice. It’s uncertain what kind of punishment Garcia would receive. It’s not uncommon for criminals to buy out their acquittals, or receive minimal jail time. There will be no witnesses called, or testimony given. I would have to “trust” Mexico with justice……does that even exist??
In the meantime, I have gotten involved in fighting for justice. This man killed my husband, but I refuse to think he’s going to kill me too. He is going to pay for this….some how or some way. I will continue to expose my personal and private life, so others will know how terribly broken our justice system is.
I would hate to think that this is going to be forgotten. I know I’ll never forget. I took my vows very seriously. I promised to honor and love my husband. I feel his contributions and his life stood for so much. He made such a positive impression on others. He was an honest, loving, fair, and a beautiful man. He had a smile that lit up a room. If I could be as lucky to touch lives like he did, in his brief 33 years, that would make me proud.
When we met, I had a four year old and a lot of debt. I use to think, what would a 26 year old guy want with me…..and all my “baggage”? I realized it was true love, and God’s blessing. I’m so grateful for those seven years. He impressed so many values, and taught me to love. I had the most perfect life with a man that cherished me. He made a wonderful husband, but mostly he stole my heart, for his natural love for my little girl. She loved him, as any little girl would love their own father. This was a dream come true….and I lived it.
The only way I feel I could go on, is to know that Armando Garcia can not hurt another family. I know my husband was willing to die for the job. But, I know it’s not so a killer could get away with cold blood murder. Armando Garcia needs to be punished under the laws of the United States. This is the only thing that is acceptable.
As it stands now, citizens and our great protectors are not safe. It’s clear if you commit
murder, with the price of a bus ticket to Mexico, you are free from accountability in the United States. This is the wrong message to send out. That is why it is so important that the public gets involved in our fight. I realize that my husband is never going to come home. I desire justice, to close this chapter of my life. I pray that there will be change in our Treaty with Mexico. I hope that Dave March’s death would send a message to our Government that, “The bad guys have found the broken link to our justice system. More lives will be lost if nothing is done.” The Treaty is the only reason, there is currently no justice. We need this Treaty renegotiated, or if possible, the United States should withdraw from it.
To our politicians: It’s time to step up!! We need your involvement, and your efforts. Los Angeles alone, already has at least 60 other families without justice. It’s inexcusable!!! Something needs to be done before the problems facing California’s criminal justice system get even further out of control. I would hope that “votes and trade”, would not get in the way of protecting our county. Our Federal Government and President Bush need fight for extradition, and punish those who commit heinous crimes on the soil of the United States. Please, don’t let Mexico continue to be a safe haven for criminals. Our tax payers deserve better.
With hope, and desire,
Teri March (widow of Deputy David March)
In Loving Memory of Dave March
End of Watch, April 29, 2002