Accused killer facing felony enhancement

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Accused murderer Salvador Garcia-Vaca will be arraigned today on an additional felony charge in connection to the death of his longtime girlfriend, Karen Garcia.

Colusa County District Attorney Matthew Beauchamp has charged Garcia-Vaca with a special allegation of intentional murder by “lying in wait.”

If convicted on the first-degree murder charge, to which Garcia-Vaca has already pleaded not guilty, and the special allegation, Garcia-Vaca would likely spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to California penal code.

The enhancement was added after Garcia-Vaca’s Jan. 21 preliminary hearing in which law enforcement officials testified that Karen Garcia, the mother of Garcia-Vaca’s child, was bludgeoned to death on Jan. 8 not long after she entered the Oak Street apartment the couple shared in Colusa prior to their breakup.

Investigators said Karen Garcia was murdered two days after she broke up with Garcia-Vaca through an exchange of heated text messages on Jan. 6, in which Karen admitted to entering a sexual relationship with another man.

Investigators also testified that on the evening of the breakup, Garcia-Vaca was caught by Karen’s sister lurking in the dark inside their mother’s house, where Karen was staying after a domestic violence incident in December, for which Garcia-Vaca is also charged.

Karen was not home at the time, officials said, and Garcia-Vaca allegedly fled immediately after he was discovered.

At the hearing, Alexander Vaca testified that his cousin had asked him for a gun, but that he refused to give him one.

Karen Garcia was reportedly last seen by her friends entering the apartment around 11 AM on Jan. 8 after spending the night at the Riverside Inn with James Blair, who expected her to return to the hotel a short time later.

Karen Garcia was not seen alive again. Her body was found inside her car in a shopping center parking lot in Woodland on Jan. 14. An autopsy performed on the body showed a skull fracture to the right side of her head above the ear and a skull fracture on the back of her head, which resulted in brain hemorrhage and death, along with defensive wounds to her hands.

The U.S. Marshals Service arrested Garcia-Vaca in Mexico, where he was reportedly living with family, on Aug. 4, 2019, after 18 months on the run.

Before he fled, Garcia-Vaca gave a tearful interview to the media and organized a “car-tagging” event hoping to raise awareness to Karen’s disappearance.

Garcia-Vaca also claimed that his breakup with Karen had been amicable, and that the two agreed to remain friends for the sake of their child, according to testimony.

Garcia-Vaca is scheduled to appear in court at 8:30 AM (Feb. 19) on the new felony charge of lying in wait. He is also scheduled for a pre-trial conference on the domestic violence battery charge. ■

Susan Meeker
Susan Meeker is the Editor and Reporter for the Pioneer Review. She started her position with the Pioneer Review in January 2017 as the Advertising Manager. Susan specializes in local crime, government reporting. She also loves covering the various topics and events in our county. You can send her a message at susan@colusacountynews.net