JOSHUA TREE — After three years of hearings, Patrick McGee’s family got the chance to address Manuel Lois Garcia, the man who pleaded guilty to killing McGee, at his sentencing hearing at the Joshua Tree Superior Courthouse Thursday morning. Garcia was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
“You’ll never know the magnitude of destruction you have caused for my family,” said Patrick’s mother, Evelyn McGee. “You’ll never know the grief I feel.”
About 3 a.m. Oct. 15, 2015, sheriff’s deputies received a report of gunshots in a home at the 5500 block of Abronia Avenue in Twentynine Palms. When they arrived, they found 31-year-old Patrick McGee suffering from a gunshot wound. He died at the scene.
Witnesses who were at the home said the shot was fired by Garcia, who had fled the scene.
He was found at 10:50 a.m. in Palm Springs and arrested on a charge of murder.
Garcia initially pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but that was overturned after a medical official found Garcia mentally competent.
The case was scheduled to go to jury trial five times but each time it was rescheduled.
On Sept. 18 Garcia entered a plea bargain with the prosecution, changing his plea to guilty of first-degree murder with an enhancement for the use of a firearm. Because of this plea bargain Garcia never went before a jury and his motive for killing McGee is still unknown.
At the hearing on Thursday, Evelyn McGee said she still wants to know why Garcia killed her son.
“You were supposed to be like family and look after him, not kill him,” she said in a statement in open court.
“He trusted you and look at what you did.”
McGee said that her family and Garcia’s were close before Patrick’s death; they even spent holidays together.
“Why did you kill him?” she asked. “Why?”
After hearing her statements, presiding judge Rodney Cortez told Garcia that, if he wished, he could answer McGee’s question, but Garcia’s lawyer advised him against speaking out in open court.
“I can’t force him to answer,” Cortez said.
Cortez went on to urge McGee to reach out to her family and friends for support during this difficult time.
“You have to think about Patrick and what he would want you to do with the rest of your life. That’s the journey you’re going to be on now,” he said.
“You have family and friends that will be able to help you on that journey.”
Cortez sentenced Garcia to 25 years in prison for first-degree murder with an enhancement of three years for the use of a firearm. His total sentence is 28 years to life in prison followed by parole.
Garcia turned 31 years old on Tuesday.