By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Leader & Times
During a Thursday afternoon preliminary hearing for Irineo Garcia, a Liberal man charged with the alleged attempted murder of three children in October of last year, Seward County District Judge Clint Peterson ruled enough evidence was presented to order Garcia to be bound over for arraignment – scheduled for 1 p.m. June 15.
As noted in a release from Liberal Police Capt. Pat McClurg on Tuesday, Oct. 19, Irineo Garcia injured three children and himself before being subdued by police.
“On Oct. 18, 2010, at about 6 p.m., officers of the Liberal Police Department responded to a residence in the 300 block of McCray Blvd. regarding a report of children being seriously injured,” the release noted. “Responding officers were confronted in the front yard by a 30-year-old man. The man had apparent self-inflicted life threatening wounds. He was subdued by the officers and was taken to Southwest Medical Center by Seward County Emergency Medical Services. He was later flown to Wichita for further medical care.
“Three children, ages 5, 6 and 7, were located in the residence,” McClurg added in the release. “Each of the children had apparent injuries. They were transported to Southwest Medical Center in serious condition. They were later upgraded to stable condition.”
McClurg said Garcia was arrested upon his release from a Wichita hospital on Friday, Oct. 21, at approximately 4 p.m.
Prior to the beginning of the preliminary hearing, all witnesses, aside from LPD Capt. John Antrim, were sequestered and ordered not to discuss any details regarding the case.
Antrim was the first to take the stand to testify as to details surrounding the evening of Oct. 18, 2010.
Antrim said upon arrival, he observed Garcia bleeding on the porch as another officer tended to his wounds. Upon entering the home in the 300 block of McCray, Antrim testified he found two small children laying face-down on the living room floor with large lacerations to their necks.
While attempting to triage the two children in the living room, Antrim said a third child walked up to him with a “large laceration across (the child’s) neck,” as well. Antrim said all three children had similar injuries and no other injuries were apparent. Antrim testified all three children had been cut from “ear to ear.”
Antrim testified the oldest child made a statement to him at the scene indicating the children’s father may be responsible for their injuries.
“(The child) said (the child’s) daddy tried to kill them by slitting their throats,” Antrim said. “There were no statements from the other children.”
Following Antrim’s testimony, all three children involved took the stand and confirmed their father, Garcia, had been responsible for their injuries.
Antrim testified there was a moderate amount of blood on the living room floor, and the children’s clothing and carpet were wet. He also testified he had smelled natural gas at the residence. LPD officer Sarah Cooley explained her findings to further explain why the children may have been wet.
“There was water running in the bathroom, it was very hot and humid in there,” Cooley said. “There was an electrical cord draped over the side of the tub and the water was red. The children were wet.”
One of Garcia’s children had testified Garcia fhad ordered all three children into the bathtub, but the water was very hot.
“He told us to go into the bathtub,” the child said. “I don’t know why.”
Garcia’s common-law wife and mother of all three children testified she had been in Lawrence when Garcia notified her of the children’s injuries.
She said Garcia had confronted a man she had begun speaking to late that afternoon. She then said she received a text message from him stating, “I hope you have a happy life.” She said approximately two to three minutes later, she had received a text message from Garcia stating he had killed the children.
Garcia’s wife said the couple had not been living together since May or June of 2010.
During her testimony, Garcia was ordered by Judge Peterson not to motion to or communicate with his wife. He denied trying to coerce her as he said he was only telling her to “be strong.” When ordered by Hasenbank not to communicate with his wife, Garcia became angry and used several expletives directed at Hasenbank. For the remainder of the hearing, Antrim sat within several feet of Garcia. Garcia was ordered to refrain from further outbursts and not to use such language by Judge Peterson.
Defense attorney Razmi Tahirkheli submitted a motion asking for an independent evaluation of Garcia’s mental competency to stand trial. Prosecutor Russell Hasenbank objected to the motion. On Dec. 8, 2010, Judge Peterson ordered psychiatric testing from Larned State Hospital. However, Peterson said he would take the motion under advisement and inform Tahirkheli of his decision before or at the time of the arraignment hearing.
Garcia is currently in the Seward County Jail and is being held on a $1 million bond. He is being charged with three counts of attempted first degree murder.