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Texas

Former Houston store owner convicted in 2018 of killing a man he thought was a thief

HOUSTON (KIAH) — A man who fled the country in 2018 after killing a man he thought was a thief has been sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg made the announcement Saturday, saying Oscar Aristides Garcia, 35, was sentenced on Wednesday. Garcia pleaded guilty to the murder in October and accepted the verdict by visiting Judge Mark Brown.

Court records show that Garcia was at his transmission shop in Pasadena on October 28, 2018 when he saw the victim, 37-year-old Nicholas Batista, walking by with his girlfriend. At the time, Garcia mistakenly believed that Batista was someone who had stolen the back doors of a pickup truck from the store.

There is no evidence that Batista was ever involved in the theft.

Nevertheless, Garcia took the truck he was working on and the shotgun to confront Bautista about the thefts. He followed the couple around town for several hours before they returned to their Pasadena home on Wafer Street.

There, Garcia confronted Bautista and began arguing with him in Spanish. Batista did not speak Spanish and his girlfriend told Garcia that he was wrong.

When Bautista turned around and left to call the police, Garcia shot him dead. He then pointed the gun at the Bautista girl and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not fire.

Garcia then picked up the shell casing before running off to another mechanic’s shop and demanding the truck be left in their garage. He then returned to his store and destroyed his security camera footage of Bautista and his girlfriend walking past the store.

He also broke into the local taqueria and destroyed security footage showing him stalking Bautista and his girlfriend.

Shortly thereafter, Garcia closed his shop and left for his native country of El Salvador, but left behind a pregnant wife and three children. Later he sent for them and they joined him for a while.

More than two years later, Garcia returned to the US and was arrested by US marshals.

Assistant District Attorney Ryan Volkmer handled the case. He thanked the Pasadena Police Department for never giving up.

“The Pasadena PD worked really hard to track down this guy and then track him overseas,” Volkmer said. “They interviewed a lot of people, they did a lot of surveillance, and they just kept going.”

Volkmer said hearing testimony from Bautista’s friends and family 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 fondly and they are happy that they finally got justice.”

“A man who deliberately kills an innocent stranger and then goes to great lengths to cover up his crime and avoid responsibility deserves to spend decades in prison for the pain he caused,” Ogg said.

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