BOISE, Idaho — An Ada County magistrate judge on Wednesday ordered a mental health evaluation for a Boise man accused of killing another man in Ann Morrison Park in October, while his attorney voiced concern for his rights while in jail.
Police and prosecutors say Andrew Ray Garcia, 27, beat and kicked Roque Leon Arellano, 47, to death in the park on Oct. 17.
The Idaho Press reports Garcia had been arguing with homeless people in the park earlier that day, a prosecutor said in court last month. Boise police took him into custody for questioning after he got into a fight with another man while carrying a realistic-looking BB gun; he was later released. Hours later, prosecutors say he attacked Arellano.
The investigation began with the discovery of Arellano’s body on Oct. 18. Police later found evidence linking Garcia to the death. Garcia is charged with second-degree murder, destruction of evidence and grand theft, a result of police finding him in possession of a credit card belonging to someone else, prosecutors say.
On Wednesday, Amy Wilson, Garcia’s public defender, asked Magistrate Judge Daniel Steckel to order Garcia to undergo a mental health evaluation and the judge granted the request. Steckel asked Wilson if she’d had meaningful conversations with Garcia.
“Judge, I have spent hours and hours and hours with him,” Wilson said. “We have been able to have some meaningful conversations and some conversations that have led to this request.”
Steckel also noted Wilson had filed a separate document — an invocation of rights — showing for the record that Garcia had invoked his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. That invocation, filed Oct. 18, “places all persons on notice the aforementioned rights have not been waived, and cannot be waived without counsel being present,” according to the document.
Steckel called the move “unusual” in court Wednesday.
Wilson said she wanted to carefully protect Garcia’s rights, given the fact that she’d asked for a mental health evaluation, and she was concerned because of incidents she said occurred in other Ada County cases.
“I think that makes him particularly vulnerable and susceptible and certainly not capable of a knowing and voluntary waiver of either his Sixth Amendment or his Fifth Amendment right,” Wilson said. “And so my concern is specifically in light of some other cases that are pending in my office, of officers attempting to interrogate them despite counsel having been appointed in their cases, it was necessary and prudent in this case to put everyone on notice that he has, in fact, already invoked those rights.”
She did not name the cases, but it wasn’t the first time she had referenced other Ada County criminal cases in citing concerns for Garcia’s rights. On Oct. 30, she filed a motion for a protective order, asking that prosecutors be barred from seeing video recordings of Garcia speaking with her, other representatives of the public defender’s office and a psychologist. Wilson wrote that those conversations were protected under attorney-client privilege and work product.
“Further, the defendant brings this motion in light of recent actions by the State in other pending cases,” Wilson wrote, and then listed the case of Ruben Diaz as one of those spurring her to file the motion.
Diaz is charged with attempted murder in connection with a November 2018 stabbing. He is also represented by the Ada County Public Defender’s Office. According to an October motion from Diaz’s attorney, prosecutors in September asked for, and obtained, video from the jail of Diaz meeting with attorneys and a psychologist. Attorneys didn’t know about it for weeks, according to the motion.
It was against that backdrop that Wilson filed her own motion in Garcia’s case.
Patrick Orr, spokesman for the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, confirmed Wednesday that jail videos do not have audio when recorded in the rooms where inmates meet with their attorneys. He also said that, while some phone calls inmates make at the jail are recorded, the jail does not record phone calls between inmates and their attorneys.
Prosecutors on Monday filed an objection to Wilson’s motion. They said they do not intend to ask for videos of Garcia’s meetings with attorneys or agents of his attorneys “unless and until the defendant gives the state a notice of intent to raise an issue of mental condition pursuant to Idaho Code 18-207,” according to the objection.
Nevertheless, Garcia’s mental condition may become important in the case, in light of Steckel ordering Garcia be evaluated.
Steckel scheduled another court appearance in Garcia’s case for Nov. 27.
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