‘Fire extinguisher murder’ defendant in trouble again
By Dave Gathman firstname.lastname@example.org October 18, 2013 4:48PM
Updated: November 21, 2013 6:38AM
WOODSTOCK — Just four days after a jury acquitted him in August in the death a homeless man in Elgin’s “fire extinguisher murder case,” Yancarlo Garcia, 25, was arrested on a new felony charge of stealing two tons of construction materials in rural McHenry, according to McHenry County court records.
And last week he became a fugitive for awhile. After he failed to show up for an Oct. 10 court hearing, a McHenry County circuit court judge revoked his bond and put out a warrant for his arrest.
But on Thursday Garcia showed up in court in Woodstock. Judge Gordon Graham quashed the arrest warrant and restored Garcia’s ability to stay free on bond until his trial on the theft charge.
Garcia was supporting himself as a tattoo artist and construction worker, and living with his girlfriend and their two children in Chicago, Army veteran Richard Gibbons was fatally injured in August 2011.
Garcia later would admit on the witness stand that he and his brother had lied to his girlfriend and drove to Elgin to spend time with two young Elgin women. He testified that all four were drunk and high on marijuana when they drove to the roof of the 60-foot-high Fulton Street Parking Deck at about 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 11, 2011. They noticed Gibbons, who was homeless, sleeping atop an air conditioning unit in the alley below, behind the Prairie Rock restaurant.
Garcia testified that he and his companions decided to “mess with” the sleeping Gibbons. But when shouted offers of sex and thrown garbage failed to wake up the homeless man, Garcia admitted, he tossed a 15-pound fire extinguisher off the roof in the general direction of Gibbons.
The extinguisher hit Gibbons, smashing one of his pelvic bones and injuring other internal organs. He spent the next month in a hospital in steadily deteriorating condition and later died.
Garcia, identified from fingerprints found on the fire extinguisher, was charged with first-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. But in a weeklong trial that ended Aug. 5, Garcia’s attorneys argued that he wasn’t aiming the extinguisher at Gibbons and that the homeless man was so sickly that he might have died even without the injuries.
The jury of 11 women and one man took just three hours to find him not guilty of all charges. Garcia went free after having spent almost two years in the Kane County Jail, awaiting trial.
Driving into a ditch
Four days later, Yancarlo Garcia was in jail again.
According to Detective Thomas Jonites of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, someone called the sheriff’s office at about 3:25 a.m. on Aug. 9 to report suspicious activity inside the storage yard of Rebars & Steel Co., a construction materials dealer in the 1700 block of Route 31 near the City of McHenry.
The caller said someone in a pickup truck had tried to drive out of the yard with their headlights off, as if wanting to avoid being seen. But in the dark the blinded driver had driven into a ditch and then over a culvert, causing a load of material to spill out of the truck’s back end.
Sheriff’s deputies sped to the area and stopped a truck matching that description. Inside they found Garcia and 27-year-old Juan G. Morales of McHenry.
Garcia and Morales were charged with, and later indicted for, felony theft. According to the sheriff’s office complaint and the indictment, they allegedly had loaded about 4,000 pounds of steel rebar, valued at $3,420, into their truck before the crash.
Other items from the business were allegedly found inside the truck, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.
Garcia’s bail was set at $20,000, requiring him to put up 10 percent ($2,000) to get out. He spent 16 days in the McHenry County Jail until the $2,000 was posted on Aug. 25.
When he was booked on the theft charge Aug. 9, deputies listed Garcia’s address as “Homeless, Elgin, Ill. But on Sept. 20 the judge agree to modify his conditions of bail to allow him to live at Perez’s home in Racine, Wis., while awaiting trial.
The next status hearing in the theft case is set for Nov. 15.
At the time he was arrested in the Gibbons case, Garcia was in the Cook County Jail, awaiting trial on a charge that he had been found in possession of a stolen vehicle in Streamwood. But that charge later was dropped by prosecutors.