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Published: Monday, 8/5/2013

Man sentenced to 12 years for killing his friend

Garcia Garcia

After saying he and Christopher Ogden were good friends for a long time, John Garcia, Jr., admitted in court Monday that he fatally slashed Mr. Ogden during an argument.

Garcia, 34, of 572 Howland Ave. pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and felonious assault in connection with the March 21 death of Mr. Ogden, 40, and the wounding of Brenda Watts, 36, at Mr. Ogden’s East Toledo home.

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Dean Mandros then sentenced Garcia to 12 years in prison — an agreed-upon term included in a plea agreement. Two counts of murder were dismissed.

“I can’t really imagine a circumstance much more tragic than not just taking a life, but taking a life of somebody you had considered a friend,” the judge told Garcia. “Obviously that’s something you’re going to have to carry with you for the rest of your life.”

Asked to tell the court what he did, Garcia said, “I got into a physical fight with a good friend of mine that escalated and I stabbed him.”

As for the wounding of Ms. Watts, Garcia said, “I ended up stabbing her. She got in the way and accidentally got cut.”

Judge Mandros pressed both the defense attorney and prosecutor about whether Mr. Ogden had been “slashed” with the knife or “stabbed,” which he said would indicate a more serious intent to harm.

“The nature of the wounds were more of a slashing type consistent with a physical altercation between both the individuals, and the victim ended up having an artery that was cut in his leg, and that caused him to bleed out before the paramedics arrived,” said Frank Spryszak, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor.

Mr. Spryszak said Mr. Ogden had incisions to his chest, shoulder, back, arms, leg, and neck.

“It was a fight in which, as he points out, it escalated and John had a knife in his pocket, and it was more back and forth swinging of the knife,” said Jon Richardson, Garcia’s attorney.

Garcia declined to comment when given the opportunity before sentencing.

The victim’s parents, Roger and Sandra Ogden, attended the hearing but also did not address the court.

Afterward, Mrs. Ogden confirmed that her son, a divorced father of three, was friends with Garcia.

“They were friends for at least 20 years,” she said. “That’s why I still don’t understand how he could do this to a friend.”

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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