Jan. 20—GOSHEN — A Goshen man who pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain agreement in August to reckless homicide was sentenced in Elkhart County Circuit Court Thursday.
Reynaldo Marin, 22, was sentenced by Judge Michael Christofeno to six years at the Indiana Department of Correction with three years suspended and three years on reporting probation. He also had 225 days served in jail that was credited to him along with earning good time credit.
Marin had pleaded guilty in August to a Level 5 felony count of reckless homicide in a case stemming from the death of Jordan Garcia of Goshen.
Marin admitted he shot Garcia, 26, on the porch of an apartment home in the 600 block of South Ninth Street on the night of March 3, 2020.
Marin told the court he was wielding a handgun when he answered the door leading to his apartment. He said the porch was dark, and claimed he wasn't aware of who was on the porch at first. Yet in the dark, he said he panicked and, believing he was acting in self-defense, opened fire as he fell back into the doorway.
Garcia was shot and died from his injuries at Goshen Hospital a short time later.
Marin admitted to the court he'd acted recklessly.
Before Christofeno sentenced Marin, he allowed three members of Garcia's family to speak.
Raymond Garcia, Jordan's brother, told the judge his brother was his role model. He felt Marin was getting a slap on the wrist.
Raymond was the one who found his brother lying on the gravel after having been shot. The trauma from that night, he said, was so overwhelming he had to check himself into a mental rehab clinic in Fort Wayne.
Jordan's sister Brigette Garcia was also traumatized. Jordan was one of her best friends. His death not only took him away from her but his children, she said.
Brigette said no amount of time behind bars will be enough justice for her brother.
"It was not an act of God, it was an act of a coward," she told the court.
Jordan's father Raymond Watts also spoke and told the judge he was frustrated with the plea deal and the investigation, calling it botched.
"Judge, I guarantee you this will not be the last time you will see him," Watts said.
Marin's attorney Phillip Miller went through what happened that evening, stressing that Marin and his girlfriend, who Garcia knew, were not expecting company that evening.
"He thought the individuals were there to harm him," Miller said.
After the shooting, Miller pointed out that Marin came to his attorney's office and full cooperated, including finding the firearm involved.
Miller said that although Marin felt his actions were in self-defense, he admits they were also reckless by shooting into the common area of the apartment building. He said he understand why the victim's family would want a harsher sentence.
Elkhart County Prosecutor Vicki Becker added that the one thing that brought all of this to culmination and resulted in Jordan Garcia's death was the poor choice of using violence and confrontation, instead of acting like adults and responsible people or settling it by involving the police. She said Garcia's death is on Marin's shoulders.
"This case is tragic for so many reasons," she said, later adding, "Mr. Marin is going to prison ..., but when he comes back, what happens is totally up to him." She also said continued violence and specifically mentioned gangs, would be dealt with.
When given the chance to address the court, Marin said he appreciated being given another chance to better himself and that he learned a lot from this.
"What did you learn from this Mr. Marin?" Christofeno asked. After a short answer from Marin, Christofeno said, "Have you learned that violence isn't the answer? Have you learned that?"
While answering that question, Marin commented about the judge not having been in his position. Christofeno told him not to presume. "That is a huge mistake on your part. I think the only person you think about is yourself. I feel for your children, I'll tell you that. I certainly feel for Jordan's family. ... Your actions have literally destroyed two families."