Back to Back Guilty Verdicts in Fairfield - NBC Bay Area

Back to Back Guilty Verdicts in Fairfield



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    Matt Garcia's birthday is celebrated after he passed away. Photo:

     Family members of slain Fairfield City Councilman Matt Garcia  clasped their hands together and cried when a Solano County Superior Court clerk in Vallejo read a verdict today convicting Gene Combs of second-degree  murder.

          Combs, a 46-year-old Suisun City man, will face 15 years to life in prison when he is sentenced on July 19.
    Garcia, 22, was shot once in the head in the 5000 block of  Silverado Drive the evening of Sept. 1, 2008.
    The shooter, Henry Don Williams, 33, of Fairfield, was convicted  Friday of first-degree murder with an enhancement for the use of a gun for Garcia's death in a separate trial. He faces 50 years to life in prison.
    Prosecutors said that Combs and Williams mistook Garcia for a drug dealer who owed Combs $50, and that Combs brought the gun that was used to kill Garcia and was present when he was shot.
    Garcia was kept alive for several days after the shooting while  his family donated several of his organs.
    Garcia's mother Teresa Courtemanche said that it was emotionally  difficult to sit through the two back-to-back trials, but she felt that the juries had returned appropriate verdicts.
    "I feel that justice has been served and we have to remember that our justice system works even though sometimes it's really hard," Teresa Courtemanche said outside the courtroom.
    She also said that Combs and Williams were the types of people her son had sought to help when he became a city councilman.
    Garcia's stepfather Raymond Courtemanche, who raised Garcia since he was 4 years old, said he was glad that Combs and Williams would not be on  the streets anymore so nobody else's family would have to go through what  they went through.
    He said they attended every day of the two trials in part because they felt it was important to represent the city of Fairfield.
    "It (the verdict) is never going to replace him, but at least we  have some closure in our lives," Garcia's grandmother Chris Garcia said.