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Tucson man convicted in 2007 strangulation death

Jesus Arnulfo "Chuy" Garcia

Jesus Arnulfo "Chuy" Garcia

When Alejandro Mendoza Padilla was facing prison in 2005 after attacking staff and officers at a juvenile detention facility, he bragged how he’d still be young when he got out.

Now Padilla is headed to prison again, after a Pima County Superior Court jury convicted him Tuesday of second-degree murder for a killing that occurred three months after his last prison stint ended.

Padilla, 22, was indicted on a first-degree murder charge in the July 10, 2007, strangulation death of Jesus Arnulfo “Chuy” Garcia, 55.

Judge Jan Kearney could give Padilla up to 22 years in prison when she sentences him on Jan. 12.

Garcia, who also suffered stabbing and blunt force trauma wounds, died in a woman’s South Southland Boulevard apartment around 5 a.m.

According to court records, Garcia met the woman in a bar the night before and was taking her home when they stopped at a gas station where Padilla worked. The woman told police she knew she could get more beer after 2 a.m., the state’s cutoff for alcohol sales.

Padilla, using an alias, took a cab to the woman’s house about an hour later and the three continued to drink beer, court records show.

Deputy County Attorney Michael Kelly believes the woman recruited Padilla to rob Garcia, but Padilla became angry and killed him.

Defense attorney Laura Udall said in court records that the woman and her husband, who has a history of domestic violence, may have killed Garcia.

Kelly said the woman was never charged because there isn’t enough admissible evidence against her, nor has her husband been charged.

Kelly said in court documents that the woman wasn’t called to testify because he believed she would lie on the stand.

Padilla told a relative after the murder that he fought with Garcia. When the relative asked if the man died, Padilla was silent, according to court records.

The relative later recanted his statement implicating Padilla, but prosecutors believe Padilla pressured him into recanting.

According to court records, Padilla became involved in gangs by age 13, though he claimed he quit the gangs by age 18.

Padilla’s mother gave up custody to Child Protective Services when Padilla was 14, fearing for her safety and the safety of her other children, court records show. His mother sent another son to a relative’s house as well, fearing Padilla would hurt him, records show.

Padilla told a probation officer “he was angry all the time because no one ever helped him,” records show.

As Padilla faced sentencing in the assaults during 2003 and 2004 at Catalina Mountain School, he told a probation officer, “regardless of what the judge gives me, I’ll still be young when I get out. It really doesn’t matter what he does.”

“It is hoped he will learn to control his anger and accept personal responsibility for his actions prior to his release,” the probation officer wrote in a presentence report, “or he may be condemning himself to a return trip.”

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