Family outraged over 15-year plea bargain

Marcos Sanders shot, killed by Matthew Garcia


Family and friends of murder victim Marcos Sanders feel the justice system has failed them.

On Feb. 11, 2009, then 20-year-old Sanders was shot and killed outside the Braesview Apartments on the city's north side.

As part of a plea bargain, the man convicted of killing Sanders, 24-year-old Matthew Garcia, received a 15-year prison sentence.

"Fifteen years is not enough. He deserves to be there until he dies, too," said Sanders' mother, Rosa Luna.

Luna said her son had been coerced in to driving two friends to buy drugs from Garcia and two other men.

A fight ensued and Garcia allegedly opened fire on the car, killing Sanders and nearly hitting his two friends.

As part of a plea bargain, Garcia pleaded no contest and received a 15-year sentence for charges of murder and assault with a deadly weapon, while charges for a 2002 burglary case and a 2010 criminal mischief case were dismissed.

He could have gotten up to 40 years for the murder charge, alone.

Sanders' family said they felt cheated, having only learned about the deal on Monday -- after it was agreed upon.

Sanders' mother, step-mother and girlfriend had a chance to address Judge Lori Valenzeula and Garcia after the sentence was delivered. 

"We waited four years. Four years of suffering to go to trial, where a judge and a jury could make a choice. Not somebody behind closed doors that we were not a part of in any way shape or form," said Carol Sanders, the Garcia's step-mother.

The family said they were even more upset when they learned that given credit for time already served, Garcia could be eligible for parole in about three years.

"He killed somebody! That's the wrong decision.Think about it," said Luna to the judge.