JONESBORO, Ill. — A defense attorney described as “patently absurd” the notion that Dr. Anthony J. Garcia is a serial killer, as Omaha's police chief suggested.
Garcia agreed Wednesday in Union County Circuit Court to be transferred to Omaha, where he is accused of killing four people over the past five years. Omaha authorities suspect that Garcia was enraged at the Creighton University pathology department officials who fired him from a medical residency program a dozen years ago. Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said early this week that Garcia appeared to fit a serial killer's profile.
Robert Motta, an Illinois attorney who, with his wife Alison Motta, is representing Garcia, said his client was eager to take his defense to Nebraska. He is being held without bail in a jail in Murphysboro, Ill. He is expected to be transported to Omaha within two weeks.
“Essentially, the game is afoot at this point,” Robert Motta said after Wednesday's court hearing. “The state has a heavy burden.”
The Mottas said they would go to Nebraska with Garcia and implied that they would defend him.
Alison Motta said Garcia was ready to go to Omaha because “he wanted to move forward and get his chance to …”
Her husband completed the sentence: “… prove his innocence.”
Garcia, head shaven and hands cuffed in front of him, nodded vigorously when talking with the Mottas during an 11-minute hearing.
Presiding Circuit Judge Mark Boie went through protocol to make sure Garcia, 40, understood he was agreeing to transfer his case to Nebraska.
“Do you have any questions about anything today?” Boie asked.
“No, your honor,” Garcia said loudly and distinctly.
Garcia was picked up Monday in southern Illinois by law-enforcement officers on suspicion of driving under the influence and illegal use of a weapon, a .45 handgun. By that time, Omaha authorities were meticulously tracking Garcia.
Jonesboro, in a lushly wooded section of southern Illinois, is a town of 1,800 best-known for a Lincoln-Douglas debate held here in 1858. Only about 15 spectators attended the hearing, close to half of them reporters.
Robert Motta said Illinois would drop the lesser charges to pave the way for the Nebraska case.
He said after the hearing that anytime a person is charged with four counts of murder, that individual is “pretty mortified.” He declined otherwise to describe Garcia's state of mind.
“His family obviously is in a state of shock at this point,” Robert Motta said.
A man dressed in a charcoal suit attended the hearing. He was described by the Mottas as a family member of Garcia. The man declined to comment.
Boie wanted to make sure that it was, indeed, Garcia's signature on a document provided during the hearing.
“Yes, your honor,” Garcia said.
When asked by the judge if he was coerced to sign them, Garcia shook his head.
Robert Motta said his client steadfastly denies having killed anyone.
Video from Anthony J. Garcia's court appearance