Jury sentences Garcia to 70 years in 2015 shooting death of Lamar student

A jury has sentenced a Beaumont man to 70 years in prison three hours after finding him guilty for the 2015 murder of a Lamar University student.Orlando Garcia, who did not react when the sentence was handed down, will not be eligible for parole until he

BEAUMONT - A jury has sentenced a Beaumont man to 70 years in prison three hours after finding him guilty for the 2015 murder of a Lamar University student.

Orlando Garcia, who did not react when the sentence was handed down, will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least 30 years in the January 2015 murder of Rhydan Bolton.

He could have faced up to 99 years for the crime.

Bolton's grandmother, Rhonda Johnson, told 12News "It's justice for Rhydan...but it's a sad situation..."

"Rhydan was a huge part of our lives and that does not end because the young man who did this is found guilty and that will never change"

"I'll have to try to forgive him for myself but because he doesn't accept responsibility for what he's done for now we can't"

Earlier in the afternoon Garcia and his family did not react much as his guilty verdict was read in the courtroom.

The family of murder victim Rhydan Bolton did not react much but left the courtroom quickly and appeared emotional as they spoke to the prosecution team outside the courtroom.

Bolton's mother, Kenetria Fauria,  and grandmother, Rhonda Johnson told 12News afterwards that they were pleased with the guilty verdict

Johnson, who says her heart is still broken, said that it seems like the tragedy just happened yesterday. 

During the punishment phase of the trial Orlando Garcia testified that he was sorry for the Bolton family’s loss.

However, during cross examination he said he was not taking responsibility for the murder. He also told the jury he felt like he did not receive a fair trial.

Fauria also testified during the punishment phase and said her son's loss was devastating for the entire family.

Court is now in recess for a short break before the punishment phase of Garcia's trial begins.

Earlier in the day during closing argument prosecuting attorney Rachel Grove argued that all the witnesses gave similar testimony proving Garcia's guilt.

Defense attorney Tom Burbank argued the state's witness gave testimony completely different from what they had told police.

Police say Garcia shot at Boltons car and killed him when he was parked in front of a convenience store off Florida ave to retaliate against a man who did not pay for drugs.

Burbank continued to point out there was no DNA or fingerprints to link Garcia to the murder.

It seemed that Burbank was trying to pin the murder on a witness named Diego Torres who had posted song lyrics on Facebook about murder the day Rhydan Bolton was killed.

When prosecutor Rachel Grove addressed the jury she told them her witnesses were hesitant to speak to police at first because they did not want to be involved.

She also pointed out that Garcia tried to bribe her witness Diego Torres while the two were in jail.

In closing arguments Grove pointed out that Garcia is not the victim and that Rhydan Bolton was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

During closing arguments Garcia seemed to be fairly stressed at one point during the end of closing arguments he raised his hand as if he wanted to speak.

12News' Jacque Masse has been live tweeting for the entire trial this week...

 

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