Jury finds Izaiah Garcia guilty of first-degree murder

Sean Markey’s parents, Tricia Thompson-Ruger and Sean Markey, embrace after the guilty verdict was announced in court Monday morning in the trial of Izaiah Garcia. He was found guilty of first-degree depraved-mind murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Sean Markey in 2019. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

A jury on Monday found Izaiah Garcia guilty of first-degree depraved-mind murder in the shooting death of a 17-year-old Sandia High School student outside a homecoming party in 2019.

The 2nd Judicial District Court jury also found Garcia, 20, guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for shooting at a second man described by prosecutors as the intended target of the shooting.

Sean Markey was fatally shot by a single round after he and a friend left the party and were waiting for a ride home, witnesses testified last week.

Markey was struck by a stray bullet outside the house party in Northeast Albuquerque on Sept. 29, 2019, and later died at a hospital.

“We are just happy that Sean got justice today,” said Tara Ross, who identified herself as Markey’s legal guardian.

“He was the sweetest kid,” Ross said. “We have just been praying for justice for him, and we are glad we got it today.”

Markey’s mother, Tricia Thompson-Ruger, clutched a photo of her son as 2nd District Judge Brett Loveless read the verdict shortly before 11 a.m. Monday. She and Markey’s father, Sean Markey, hugged and wept after the verdict was read.

“He was so sweet,” Sean Markey said of his son outside the courtroom, his voice cracking with emotion.

“He was a good kid,” Markey said. “He never went to parties. He went to one party. That’s the worst luck someone could have.”

Izaiah Garcia, 20, is led away by a Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy Monday shortly after jurors found him guilty of first-degree depraved-mind murder in the 2019 shooting death of Sean Markey, a Sandia High School student. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Jurors reached a verdict after deliberating less than six hours in all on Friday afternoon and Monday morning.

“I’m very, very pleased and happy, and satisfied for the family,” Deputy District Attorney John Duran said after the verdict was read.

“Nothing like this will ever bring their son back, but at least they can get a little peace of mind and some justice,” Duran said.

In a separate case, Garcia is charged with first-degree murder for the 2019 shooting death of Cayla Campos, 21, who was playing Pokémon Go with her boyfriend when her car was sprayed with bullets.

Campos was killed Oct. 18, 2019, less than three weeks after Markey’s killing. That trial is scheduled to begin in December.

For the verdict reached Monday, Garcia faces a minimum sentence of 30 years in prison for his conviction on a count of first-degree depraved-mind murder, Duran said.

A depraved-mind murder is described as an action “dangerous to the lives of others, indicating a depraved mind without regard to human life,” according to the indictment.

“We can’t have these kinds of acts happening in New Mexico,” Duran said. “It happens way, way too often.”

Garcia faces an additional 2½ years for his conviction on the second count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a fourth-degree felony, for shooting at Christian Mattock outside the party, Duran said.

A sentencing hearing had not been scheduled Monday.

Duran told jurors last week that Markey’s death stemmed from a years-old dispute between Garcia and Mattock that became violent after the two showed up at the same party in the 3900 block of Garcia NE, near Montgomery and Eubank.

Garcia confronted Mattock in the street outside the party, drew a pistol, and began chasing and shooting at Mattock as he ran down the street, Duran told jurors last week.

Mattock was uninjured by the gunfire, but one round ricocheted off a driveway and struck Markey as he and a friend were sitting on a landscape rock waiting for a ride.

Garcia’s attorney, Nicole Moss, told jurors that the prosecution’s case was weak because at least seven people were firing guns on Garcia NE at the time Markey was shot.

Moss said prosecutors could not show that Garcia fired the fatal round because at least five people were shooting 9mm guns, which is the type of round that fatally struck Markey.

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