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One day in the mail I found a large manila package.

In it was an elongated file with the name of Felix Garcia and a yellow sticky note on top of it saying its a charity case, see what you can do. The package was sent by John, a cell mate who was assigned to Felix as his ears of understanding in the hearing world. John is a sign interpreter. This was October of 1996. I have been the paralegal on this case ever since.

I am highlighting this true story of a deaf mans arrest, conviction, life sentence and quest for innocence. This deaf inmate, after securing a confession by the offender, is still incarcerated innocently for over 30 years. All my information prior to 1997 is via trial transcripts, interviews with the defendant, and police reports. Any quotes from Felix of his interpretation as to what was going on during the time this murder took place, must be read with the understanding that this is what he believed people were saying via lip reading or picking up words here and there if the circumstances were right [no background noise, no other people talking and close to him physically] and filling in the blanks. Some things in life radically change a person. Receiving this file was one. For Felix, is was the beginning of hope he never envisioned as we began our journey through the court system.

In order to acquaint the reader with Felix Garcia, I will briefly touch on his life up to the time of the arrest.

Felix was born on October 1, 1961 to a family of 5 other siblings: one sister and four brothers. They were not well off by middle class standards. A former sister-in-law had related to me that the whole family lived in a very small 4 bedroom house with no heat or air conditioning, no carpeting, nor a phone until around 1993. The neighborhood was mostly Hispanic ethnicity, situated in Tampa, Florida. By all accounts, according to Felix, it was a strict home, not full of warmth, where he felt he didnt belong. And he couldnt understand why.

Some point in his third year Felix developed an ear infection. He was taken to the local free medical clinic a couple of times before school age, but apparently he was not given any medication to clear up the infection. As a result of neglect, the infection grew worse over his growing up years, puss was draining from the infection, and it hurt so bad. As a young man, when he complained about how bad the infection hurt, he said he was slapped on the head by his father and told not to cry or complain. Maybe that may explain why he has had serious bouts of migraine headaches, even to this day As the insidious disease progressed so did his hearing loss start taking its toll. But because no one made any mention of it, Felix thought it was normal. Some family members mistook this lack of hearing as Felix being mentally challenged or a slow learner. He was able to hear sound but the discernment of words was weakening. He learned to communicate by picking up words he could understand when there was no background noise or a lot of chatter around. He found himself learning to understand words more by reading lips when anyone stood in front of him. Felix knew he was having difficulty in understanding what was being said but at the same time it was very important to not want to appear stupid. He wanted to be accepted, so he would agree to do everything he was asked, follow when told to, laugh when everyone else did, even if not knowing the when-where- why first. It became a way of life for him because he had to trust that his family and friends would not want to hurt him. School was difficult for young Felix. It was apparent he was having ear problems. Teachers and school nurses were concerned about this young man, and they tried to get help for him. They commonly would send notes home with him. His parents, Felix said, discarded those notes. The result was that Felix, by not getting the infection treated, was not acquiring any formal schooling.

Learning was stunted and his vocabulary was becoming increasingly limited as schooling progressed. He knew something wasnt right. School was frustrating and embarrassing for him, so he would skip classes and eventually drop out. He tried to be like the other kids, but found it hard to fit in. The record shows however, that he did graduate. He never knew until I got involved in the case and showed him that he had. High school would serve as Felixs launch into the deaf world a world that would only get worse. Like any normal young man, Felix had a girlfriend. her name was Michelle. As with many teenage couples, Michelle got pregnant, and a baby girl was born in March 1981. Shortly afterwards, they ended the relationship, but Felix was allowed to visit baby Candise at Michelles house. He would do so, almost every evening. On one particularly hot and muggy Florida night, Felix didnt want to walk the 5 miles to Michelles. He went next door to his sister Tinas apartment to ask for a ride. Felix and me at Tomoka C.I., Christmas 2011

When Felix entered the apartment, he saw Tina and her boyfriend Ray sitting on the couch. Rays brother Frank was seated on the floor, writing something at a small table. Felix would later tell me, I go get water first. Then I stand back and watch. They look at me. They say what you want. I say I need ride again. Frank get mad and say something and wave hand at me to get out. Felix left immediately, and began the long walk to Michelles. During that walk, a car pulled up next to him. Tina was driving. Ray was in the passenger seat and Frank sat in the back. Felix later wrote, I happy get in back. They drove him over to Michelles house, dropped him off and sped away. The date was August 3, 1981, at around 6:30 pm. These family visits, often consisted of pizza and TV. Michelle ordered a large pizza for delivery. It came with 2 free, large soft drinks, as part of a promotional deal. Michelle placed the money for the pizza on the coffee table in the living room, so Felix could pay the driver. Felix signed the required delivery slip. The time noted on the slip was 7:22 pm. That same evening, Michelles sister Carla and her boyfriend Kent dropped by the house. Felix told me that they appeared to be in a hurry. Carla grabbed the last piece of pizza, and they left. Michelles mother Minerva came home from work close to 10:30 pm. The family argued over the choice of movies, finally opting for the Godfather. Minerva, who never liked Felix, was getting upset at his being there. She took Michelle back into the bedroom and told her to get rid of him. After the movie ended, Michelle called a United Cab. The driver was instructed to take Felix home, to his grandmothers. Like the pizza, Michelle paid the cab driver because Felix didnt have any money. The time at that point was around 1:30 am, August 4, 1981. While everyone was watching TV, a murder was taking place 5 miles away.

The following was taken from the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Records of the time frame, on the night of the murder. On August 3, 1981, at approximately 7:30 PM, motel guest Mr. Jack Reddit, was leaving room 154 at the Quality Inn, located at 210 E. Fowler. He noticed the door to Room 155 was open and a subject was apparently in the room, watching TV. He did not see any one else in the room at that time. Mr. Reddit stated that at approximately 10:50 pm, he returned to the Quality Inn. He said he had noted the time as he was leaving his car. He was going back to his room to watch the 11 oclock news. He observed that the door to Room 155 was still open. He was going to enter the room to advise the subject to close the door, but thought better of it and went on into his room.

The next morning, upon leaving his room to go to breakfast, Mr. Reddit noticed that the door to room 155 was still open, and the leg that he had seen hanging off the bed, the previous evening, was still in the same position. Thinking that something may be wrong, he contacted the management who had maintenance person, Mr. Howard Lunsford check on the room. Mr. Lunsford found the victim in the same position as reported by the investigator, Detective Kevin Fitzpatrick. Mr. Reddit had no further information to add.

Quality Inn motel guests, Pat Castellano and her son, James, were staying in Room 153. On the night of August 3, 1981 at 2300 hrs (11:00 PM) or what they thought was 2300 hrs Mrs. Castellano said they heard a knock in the room next door probably the victims room and shortly after, heard a banging sound. They assumed that someone wanted them to turn their TV down, which they did.

Frederick Tramontana phoned his brother, Joseph Tramontana, and they talked, between 8:00 and 8:15 PM on August 3, 1981. Joseph Tramontana was the guest in Room 155. Over the phone, Frederick heard the voices of two males with WestTampa Latin accents. Frederick Tramontana said that during his conversation with his brother, he heard Joseph speak to these persons. At some point in the conversation, Joseph told Frederick that he was coming over to their Dads house to leave some expensive jewelry

before returning to his work in Saudi Arabia. Fredrick never heard from his brother again. After motel guest Mr. Reddit reported something suspicious and maintenance man Mr. Lunsford assessed the situation and believed the person was dead, he called the Tampa Police Dept. Around 7:49 am, August 4, 1981, Officer John. R. Steele was dispatched by radio to a deceased person call at the Quality Inn at 210 E. Fowler Avenue. Officer Steele observed a white male lying on the bed, on his back. The man was dead. Several other officers arrived and about an hour into the investigation discovered by using plat maps that, room 155 is located approximately 65 feet inside Hillsborough County, which is outside the jurisdiction of the Tampa Police Dept. The Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office (HCSO) was notified and they took over the investigation. From the motel registry, the occupant of Room 155 was Joseph J. Tramontana. Deputy R. H. Williams was the first, on the scene, from the HCSO. He immediately observed the same white male on the bed, with a lot of blood present on and around the victims head and upper torso, plus several specks on the wall. He saw no signs of struggle. Being an apparent unnatural death, the investigation was turned over to the HCSO Criminal Investigation Deptartment and the HCSO Identification Department. Hillsborough County Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Charles Diggs confirmed the identity of the victim as Joseph J. Tramontana. In his findings, the victim had a single gunshot wound, where the projectile entered over the right temporal area of the head, causing tremendous damage to the brain, resulting in death. There was no other evidence of trauma, lacerations or contusions whatsoever. From his mid teens up to this point, Felix was coping with an ear infection that was making his world increasingly like a vacuum. He described it as living underwater. He had to stuff cotton balls in his ears to keep the puss from running out. In his younger years, Felix had learned speech, so he could talk. He could also understand some conversation, if the person was close, and Felix could see their face. However, the speaker often, wouldnt know this, and may have assumed that Felix heard and

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understood everything. Because his condition was not acknowledged as something different, Felix didnt know he had abnormal hearing. He thought everyone was experiencing what he was going through. To many, he was assumed different not bright. Even stupid, but that was simply a characterization of his deafness. Felix told me that, on the day after the homicide August 4, 1981 his brother, Frank gave him a nice, gold horn necklace. He noticed Frank had new jewelry on, too. As usual, Felix did as he was told and they drove around, ending up at the Tampa Gun and Pawnshop. Felix showed the owner, Kevin Myhere, a ring. He was told to say it came from their father having passed away and to ask how much was it worth.

The next day Felix said he walked into Tina and Rays apartment. Frank was there. Felix saw the three, hovering over a newspaper. When they noticed him, things got suddenly quiet, and they hid the newspaper. Felix suspected something was wrong, but he didnt know what it was. He did notice however, that everyone was wearing new jewelry. He called Frank aside and gave him back the gold horn necklace. His reason for being there in the first place was to ask Frank for a ride over to see his baby girl, Candise. On the way to Michelles house, they went back to the Tampa Gun and Pawnshop. Felix told me, that he saw Frank and Tina present other jewelry to Mr. Myhere. The only purchase the pawnbroker made, however, was that of the ring Felix had shown him on the previous day. Frank said he didnt have any ID on him and asked Felix to sign the pawn ticket. It was normal for Felix to follow his brother and sisters lead. Felix has never revealed to me his friends, outside of school, that he hung out with it was usually Franks friends. During the course of this week, he went places with Frank. On one occasion, he noticed Franks girlfriend had new jewelry on lots of it! By this time, he knew the jewelry was stolen, forgetting he had signed a pawn ticket.

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Hillsborough County Sheriffs Records

Friends of the deceased, Joseph Tramontana, were


interviewed for any possible leads or information concerning the homicide and during the course of the conversations a few had commented that Joseph wore a lot of jewelry. The family was also interviewed and described some of the jewelry worn by Joseph prior to his death. A common comment was the jewelry appeared to be very expensive. HCSO Identification Technician, Margie McDonald, was sent to the crime scene to photograph and dust for latent fingerprints, among other duties. Later, HCSO latent fingerprints examiner, Royce Wilson, received the ink fingerprints and palm print impressions. Positively identified were 33 prints belonging to Joseph Tramontana, 2 prints belonging to close friend, Eddie Morgada, and 13 prints

belonging to Francisco Garcia. Wilson found no fingerprints belonging to Felix Garcia. On August 10, 1981, around 2:00 pm, Detectives Kevin Fitzpatrick and Gerry Nelms were contacted by John Nicollette who owned a pawn shop located in the 2700 block of West Columbus Ave. He said he had been robbed and had called other pawn brokers to see if they received any stolen items. Mr. Nicollette relayed that Kevin Myhere, owner of the Tampa Gun and Pawn Shop located at 2515 W. Hillsborough Ave, stated he purchased a ring by 2 individuals who told him they have other jewelry to sell under the advisement that it was stolen. Mr. Nicollette said he called Kevin Myhere back for a description of the ring, which he drew on a piece of paper. The detectives saw that the drawing basically fit the same description of a ring described earlier to them, so they and Mr. Nicollette proceeded over to see Kevin Myhere. When the officers saw the ring it did indeed match the description of a butterfly designed 5diamond gold ring belonging to the victim. They took possession of the ring to be used as evidence and gave Mr. Myhere a property receipt. They were also shown the pawn ticket, signed by Felix Garcia, with address of 205 S. Westland Ave., dated August 4, 1981. A couple hours later, the detectives contacted the victims close friend Eddie Morgada to ask if he could identify the rings worn by Tramontana, he said he could. They showed him the ring they just confiscated and Morgada said it was the victims and even was able to tell them where it came from. The identity of the ring and its owner was confirmed by jeweler Cosme Herrera at DiHilcos Jewelry store. Approximately 9:30 pm, the detectives and undercover agent Det. Richard Kennedy, proceeded to 205 South Westland Ave. under the pretense to buy some stolen jewelry from Felix Garcia. Felix was not there, someone said to check next door, so the detectives went to 203 South Westland Ave. At the residence was Ray Stanley and Tina Garcia, sister of Felix Garcia. They told them Felix was not here. While in conversation, Det. Fitzpatrick noticed Ray Stanley was wearing a Seiko watch that fit the description of the victims missing watch. Det. Fitzpatrick checked the serial number and it matched the one stolen. He also saw a pinkie ring on Ray stanleys finger and it too matched the description of one having belonged to the victim. Ray was advised of his rights and transported to the Sheriffs Operation Center (SOC) to be interviewed.

He immediately gave a statement that changed Felix Garcias life forever - the statement that lead to his arrest.

The arrests August 10, 1981


[Authors note: As stated earlier at Tina and Rays apartment during the day of August 5, 1981, Felix said he walked in unannounced and saw Frank, Tina, and Ray reading a newspaper, and that they hid it when they saw him. Frank, Tina, and Ray now knew the police had found Joseph Tramontanas murdered body, and that there was stolen jewelry involved. Like any participant in a crime with the possibility of being caught, they devised a plan as to who did what and where, and how the jewelry came about this fact will become evident as I tell the rest of the story.] On August 10, 1981, approximately 11:00 pm, Det. Fitzpatrick and Lt. W. D. Law transported Ray Stanley to the Sheriffs Operation Center (SOC). After his Miranda rights were read, Ray became aware of possible charges of possession of stolen property, dealing in stolen property and first-degree murder of Joseph Tramontana. While Ray was being taken to SOC, and since the purpose for law enforcement coming to 203 S. Westland Avenue in the first place was to meet and interview Felix Garcia concerning his involvement with the stolen jewelry, Det. Jerry Nelms and Sgt. J. Martelli stayed behind with

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Tina Garcia. Tina told them both brothers should be returning soon in a red or maroon Firebird car. Sgt. Martelli asked Tina if she had any weapons in the house and she said she did. Upon showing them the location of the weapons, she said there is a .38 missing. She also made a comment that she knew her brothers were involved in something, but she didnt want to believe that her brothers had killed someone. With nothing more to do at that time, the officers waited for the arrival of Felix Garcia. In the interrogation room at SOC, Ray Stanley began to talk. He told the officers that on the evening of August 3, 1981, Frank and Felix came to his residence around 10:00 p.m., August 3, with a large amount of jewelry and a briefcase which he said contained a plane ticket to Saudi Arabia, a passport, numerous Levi buckles and other papers. Ray said the briefcase, with all its contents, was taken into his backyard and set on fire. Ray said he was given a Seiko watch and a pinky ring as a gift from Frank and Felix, taken from the proceeds of a big sting. Ray said he was told they had to blow somebody away to get all the jewelry. With this new information elicited from Ray, the investigation into the murder of Joseph Tramontana focused on Felix and his brother Frank. A call went out to Det. Jerry Nelms and Sgt. J. Martelli, at Tinas apartment, that Felix has been upgraded to a murder suspect in the commission of armed robbery. At approximately 11:45 p.m., Frank having picked Felix up at Michelles house dropped him off at 205 South Westland, since he was staying with his grandmother next door, his home for most of his teenage years. Felix relayed to me, that when he was walking up the sidewalk, he noticed Tinas porch light being flicked on and off to get his attention and she was waving her hands for him to come up to her place. He told her, No, I am tired and want to go to bed. Normally in the past, Tina would stop insisting but this time she kept it up so he walked up to her apartment. Felix

graphically told me, As I got to the top of the stairs, just as I touched the door, I was pushed from behind and fell to the floor. As fast as I fell to the floor I was picked up and carried to the car and driven off. To where and what for he didnt know this all came as a complete surprise to Felix. Why? When Felix arrived at SOC at Officers sat across from him. I approximately 12:40 a.m., could picture him looking August 11, 1981, he was around to see what was next. placed in a small room with Det. He was charged with First Kevin Fitzpatrick and Det. Luis Degree Murder and Armed and Det. Nelm for questioning. Robbery. He told me he had no Felix described the room. In idea what murder meant as he fact, he drew me a picture of it had not heard the word before. a book shelve on one wall and a table in the middle, with himself sitting on one side. Courtesy of Mother Jones / Pat Bliss Det. Nelm stated in the police report Felix was read his Miranda Rights, also called a Consent to Interview Form. In the 1983 trial transcripts on this same subject, Det. Fitzpatrick testified:

Q. Did you read Mr. Garcias Constitutional Rights, sir?

A. Yes, sir, I did.

Q. Did it appear to you Mr. Garcia had any problems understanding what you were telling him, sir?

But did Felix really understand his rights? In an off the record comment by Det. Fitzpatrick:

Q. Was he asked if he understood his rights?

A. Yes, he was.

Q. Did he reply Yes?

A. He indicated that he understood his rights.

Det. Fitzpatrick said Felix indicated he understood. That comment was never cleared as to what Felix did to indicate a nod of the head? So when I asked Felix on one of my legal visits to the county jail on August 15, 1998, if his rights were read, my notes reflect his answer was I didnt know what they were until I got to prison. I said did you sign a confession? Felix replied no. Anything written down? He said no. That is true, no form was signed as verified by Det. Fitzpatrick:

Q. Did you have him sign the rights card?

A. No. I didnt.

Q. Did you have him sign a Consent to Interview form?

A. Not that I recall.

Since the officers were satisfied Felix had his Rights read and understood what they were, they were ready to begin to question him. As Det. Fitzpatrick testified: Q. But did you, in fact, at anytime find out if he wanted to talk to you? Did he say he would talk to you?

A. Based on past experience, having advised him of his rights, having had the defendant tell me that he understood his rights, until such time as he said he wanted an attorney, I felt free to ask him any questions I wanted to ask him.

The questioning began and in the police report it briefly states:

Mr. Garcias only statement was that the ring he sold to


the Tampa Gun and Pawn Shop was a ring he had bought on 22nd St. from an unknown person. Mr Garcia declined to discuss any information concerning the murder and requested an attorney at that point. Writer did not question Mr. Garcia any further.

The trial transcript of Det. Fitzpatricks testimony went into a little more detail:

Q. What did you ask him, if you recall?

A. I asked him is he knew the victim. I asked him about any possible involvement that he might have in the case. I asked him about how he might have come in contact with the jewelry.

Q. And what was Felix Garcias response?

A. He stated that he got the jewelry on 22nd Street. He denied having any knowledge of the victim, denied having any involvement in the case

At the beginning of my legal visits, I had asked Felix to write out what he remembered when arrested and at the interrogation. These are his exact words and he numbered his comments: 1. Everyone was talking at once could not understand. I told them to one person has to speak at a time, I cant understand.

2. He [an officer] said something about 22nd street and I said yes thats what their saying.

3. He asked me to speak to god that he was going to give me time. When he closed the door the light flashed and I knew something was there. I cleared my throat a couple of times and the light flashed.

4. I didnt know god back then but I prayed and told the truth about everything I knew.

[Author's note: I was a little stunned to see what Felix wrote concerning God. This is what he thought was asked of him in the interrogation. Misunderstanding words is so very common for the deaf. In other notes I see where he said one officer would be nice and the other would be mean. That they kept saying you do know and I would say I dont know. He said he didnt ask for an attorney [didnt know he needed one]. He did what all deaf typically do, though, be agreeable. It was his custom to try to follow someones speech, to grasp a word here and there of what he thought he understood, watch facial expressions and then make some sense out of it. However, it does appear from my notes that Felixs memory about his interrogation was not reminiscent of the details by the officers. What went on in the interrogation room will never be known. Det. Fitzpatrick had testified nothing was written down nor was it taped. This hurts, because the interrogation of Felix Garcia was what others said he said - the officers, Ray, Tina and no external proof to show otherwise. Being deaf is not fair in the judicial system.] As I had mentioned at the end of the last chapter, Felix was arrested and interrogated on other peoples words. Felix was told where the jewelry came from by his brother Frank. Felix was asked to sign a pawn ticket because Frank had no ID on him. There is no tape or written notes as to what was really relayed in that room. Nothing other than police records or trial testimony by others, stating what Felix allegedly said. The disturbing fact is and according to police records Ray Stanley, Tina Garcia, A.J. Lynch and Terry Stubbs interviews were taped, why wasnt Felixs?

On August 10, 1981 at 12:30 a.m., Detectives Luis and Kennedy stopped Frank Garcia after he had dropped Felix off. Frank was driving his maroon Firebird, just as Tina described. In the car with him were his girlfriend Julie Morris and another couple. Julie was wearing one of the stolen necklaces with an Italian horn, given to her by Frank. Detective Luis arrested Frank and charged him with First Degree Murder and Armed Robbery. He was handcuffed and taken to SOC to be interrogated. The officers transporting Felix had just arrived a little earlier. It didnt go well with interviewing Frank. The only comment written in the police report was, he was belligerent and could not be interviewed by any detectives.

On August 17, 1981, both Ray and Tina were asked to come back to SOC to be interviewed. Tina had her rights read and she signed a Consent to Interview Form. Tina was not questioned the night of the arrests, August 10, 1981, because Ray had pointed the guilt on Frank and Felix and the officers had no reason to talk with her any further at that time. Ray already had signed a Consent form when he was taken to SOC on August 10, 1981 as a suspect, but was released because he was cooperative, gave the officers good reason why he was in possession of the stolen jewelry and had fingered the alleged crime on Felix and Frank right off. These interviews therefore, were only to solidify the fact they had the right suspects. Detectives Fitzpatrick and Nelms conducted the interviews and according to their police report, Tina Garcia Stanley (she and Ray Stanley were unexpectedly and without any fanfare, married the day after the arrests) relayed to the officers:

That on Monday night, 3 August 81, her brothers came


home at approximately 10:30 p.m. and once inside the house, Frank showed her and Ray Stanley a plastic bag containing two gold rings and a gold watch. She said Frank offered the watch to Ray for a birthday present. Tina told the officers that her brothers had also in their possession a dark colored briefcase and saw the name of Joseph Tramontana in white letters. That her brothers then burned the briefcase behind the house that night. She added that her brothers told her and Ray that they blew a guy away to get this stuff. Tina went on to say the night her brothers were arrested, upon being asked by Sgt. Martelli if she had any guns in her residence said she showed Sgt. Martelli to her bedroom dresser and opened the drawer where she kept her guns. She did show Sgt. Martelli a .22 caliber revolver and a pellet gun but did not tell him that a .38 caliber revolver was missing. (It must have been brought to her memory that she told Sgt. Martelli she had a .38 revolver and it was missing, as she then volunteers in this report that she bought it at a gun shop on Platt St. in Tampa about 2 months earlier. The relevancy is several .38 revolver shells were found at the scene). She ended the interview with saying neither brother had any jewelry on them when they left the house around 7:00 p.m. on August 3, 1981. Ray Stanley said that Frank and Felix borrowed his tan Cadillac the evening of August 3, 1981. That the brothers came home around 11:45 p.m. (about a 1:15 hour difference from Tinas stated time and 1:45 hour from his first interview the night of the arrests). He said the brothers told him they had to blow a guy away in order to get this stuff and had on their person some expensive jewelry. Ray said he saw Joseph Tramontanas name in white letters on the briefcase and that the brothers

took the briefcase outside behind the residence, poured gasoline on it and set it on fire. Regarding the revolver, he said he knew Tina had one and she told him it was missing when he got back from SOC that the night of the arrests of Frank and Felix. He pointed out that his residence had not been burglarized and the only other person knowing about the revolver was Felix and Frank. He does not know where the .38 revolver is now. On August 19, 1981, friends of Frank Garcia, A.J. Lynch and Terry Stubbs were interviewed at SOC by Det. Fitzpatrick and Det. Nelms. They basically told the officers that they were both present during a conversation when Frank Garcia told them about Felix Garcia killing the victim.

At the end of the report it states Detective Nelms requests this case remain [c]leared by the arrests of Francisco Garcia and Felix Garcia for First Degree Murder in connection with this offense. No further police action required.

The Trial Process Begins


First Appearance
After a suspect is arrested, the next step in the criminal judicial process is called First Appearance or an Adversary (or Advisory) Preliminary Hearing. The defendant comes before the court, the Judge informs the defendant of the charges, gives him (or her) a copy of the complaint, advises the defendant of his right to remain silent, any statements made could be used against him and if not represented, and if financially unable to afford counsel, one will be appointed. The appointed counsel will either be from the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) or a practicing criminal defense attorney who

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voluntarily submits to being court appointed when needed. The court appointed attorney fees are paid by the court, not the defendant. The last issue resolved is determining pre-trial release on bond. This hearing is to take place withing 24 hours of arrest, according to Florida Rule Criminal Procedure 3.130. That is, it should.

It took Assistant Public Defender (PD),Wayne Chalu, to file a motion demanding that Felix Garcia have his First Appearance Hearing. Felixs Hearing took place on September 11, 1981, one month after being arrested on August 11, 1981. At the Hearing, Felix was determined financially unable to pay for his defense. Probable Cause was found to hold him, no bond was set on the murder charge but a $50,000 bond was set on the armed robbery charge. On September 16, 1981, the Grand Jurors of the County of Hillsborough, State of Florida, returned an Indictment charging:

That FELIX GARCIA, on the 3rd day of August, 1981, in the


county and State aforesaid, from a premeditated design to effect the death of JOSEPH TRAMONTANA, JR. a human being, did murder by shooting him with a firearm SECOND COUNT That FELIX GARCIA, on the 3rd day of August, 1981, in the county and State aforesaid, did unlawfully, by force, violence, assault, or putting in fear, rob, steal, and take away from the person or custody of JOSEPH TRAMONTANA JR., certain property, to-wit: cash and jewelrythe said FELIX GARCIA not being the true owner of the said property, and in the course of committing the robbery did carry a deadly weapon, to-wit: a firearm.

Felix had a PD present to represent him at the First Appearance Hearing but on September 25, 1981, Felix was re-assigned court appointed attorney Raul Palomino. Frank Garcia was represented by the OPD. When there are two or more defendants involved in the same offense, only one can be represented by the OPD or there would be a conflict of interest issue. With the preliminary appearances over, thus began the 2 year preparation of motions, continuances, tests, depositions that lead up to the Felix Garcia murder trial.