Texas man gets 35 years for killing ‘innocent stranger’ he mistook for thief

A Texas auto shop owner has been sentenced to 35 years in prison after shooting dead an innocent man he falsely accused of being a thief – then later fled the country to his native El Salvador to escape Justice.

“A man who intentionally kills an innocent stranger and then does everything he can to cover up his crime and shirk responsibility deserves to spend decades in jail for the pain he has caused,” the county prosecutor said. Harris, Kim Ogg, in a statement.

Oscar Aristides Garcia, 35, was sentenced last Wednesday after pleading guilty to murder for the October 2018 killing of 37-year-old Nicolas Bautista.

Prosecutors have asked that Garcia be sentenced to 50 years in prison. Garcia’s defense team has been in contention for 15 years.

Oscar Aristides Garcia was sentenced to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to murder in a case of mistaken identity.
Harris County District Attorney’

Nicolas Bautista, 37, was shot and killed in October 2018 in front of his girlfriend after being mistaken for a thief by Garcia.
Nicolas Bautista, 37, was shot and killed in October 2018 in front of his girlfriend after being mistaken for a thief by Garcia.
Harris County District Attorney’

Investigators say Garcia was in his Pasadena, Texas, transmission repair shop on Oct. 28, 2018, when he saw Bautista walking by with his girlfriend. The couple were heading to the restaurant for Sunday brunch.

“Garcia mistakenly believed that Bautista was a man that Garcia thought was stealing pickup truck tailgates from the store,” the prosecutor’s office said.

Bautista has never been involved in any theft. But Garcia took a truck he was working on from the store and a shotgun, and followed the 37-year-old and his girlfriend to confront him about the thefts.

After discovering that the restaurant near Garcia’s store was closed, Bautista and his girlfriend took an Uber to another restaurant, followed by Garcia, according to prosecutors.


Garcia, seen on surveillance video, followed Bautista and his girlfriend to their home in Pasadena, Calif., where he confronted the man brandishing a rifle.
Garcia, seen on surveillance video, followed Bautista and his girlfriend to their home in Pasadena, Calif., where he confronted the man brandishing a gun.
Pasadena Police Department

After they finished their meal, the couple took another Uber home and Garcia continued to chase them to their address on Wafer Street in Pasadena.

There, Garcia got out of the truck and started arguing with Bautista in Spanish – a language the other man didn’t speak. Bautista’s girlfriend knew Spanish and told Garcia he was wrong.

When Bautista turned and walked away to call police, prosecutors said Garcia shot him in the back. He was pronounced dead in hospital shortly thereafter.

Garcia also pointed the gun at Bautista’s girlfriend and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not fire.


After shooting Bautista, Garcia pointed the gun at his girlfriend, walked away, and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not fire.
After shooting Bautista, Garcia pointed the gun at his girlfriend, walked away, and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not fire.
Courtesy of Cordelia Bautista

Garcia picked up the casing before fleeing to another mechanic’s shop and demanding to store the truck used in the murder inside that person’s garage.

The shooter then returned to his own store and destroyed his security camera recording device so that there was no trace of Bautista walking near the business, investigators said.

Garcia also broke into a nearby taqueria and destroyed his security camera recorder, which captured him following Bautista.

Garcia then closed his repair business and fled to El Salvador, leaving behind his pregnant wife and three children. The family later joined the fugitive overseas.

After more than two years in hiding, he returned to the United States and was arrested by the US Marshals Service.

Assistant District Attorney Ryan Volkmer, who prosecuted the case, said last week that listening to Bautista’s family and friends testify in court about his loss was heartbreaking.

“He was a beloved son, a beloved brother and a beloved boyfriend,” Volkmer said. “He worked hard and is remembered very well, and they are happy to have finally gotten justice.”

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