Testimony began Tuesday in the trial against one of six inmates accused of stabbing and beating another inmate to death last summer, a case that officials said confirmed suspicions that an effort to unify Hispanic prison gangs was alive in Oklahoma.
Several corrections officers from within the ranks of the Lawton Correctional Facility testified Tuesday about the context of 25-year-old Sonny Limpy's killing on June 13, 2012. Jose Garcia was charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for participating in the physical attack on Limpy, which the state alleges was planned by Alonzo Flores and Armando Luna, who is facing the death penalty for his role. The murder allegedly was part of a movement to unify Hispanic gangs under the Mexican Mafia.
Evidence of gang activity in prison has been utilized by both Comanche County Assistant District Attorney Jay Walker, to support his contention that the killing was planned and executed with cold-blooded precision; and by defense attorney Silas Lyman, who said Garcia was facing a choice of whether to kill or be killed.
Forensic investigators from the Lawton Police Department and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation testified about blood photographed and collected from the scene in a detailed account of how each sample changed hands and was tested. OSBI criminalist Andrew Moreland testified blood found on socks and pants collected from Garcia tested positive for Limpy's blood, with the probability that a random sample from the population would match the profile being one in 1.4 quintillion.
Dr. Marc Marrison, a forensic pathologist at the medical examiner's office, testified about the injuries to Limpy's body following an in-chambers session about whether photographs of Limpy's autopsy could be shown. Limpy suffered from multiple stabs wounds to the head, torso and hands, including one blow behind the ear that penetrated his skull.
Video clips of the attack showed Limpy being dragged under a stairwell in Pod C of the prison, where he was stabbed. With a blood-soaked shirt, Limpy ran to a door and buzzed for help at an intercom before another inmate approached again. Limpy faced the man, believed to be Ryan Garcia, and squared off in a fighting stance, but was dropped by a blow to the rib cage. He was then punched and kicked repeatedly during the nearly minute-long attack.
Lawton Correctional Facility Lt. John Engle arrived to find inmates piled on top of Limpy before he opened a flap on the door and deployed pepper spray, which also contains an orange dye. Darren Padron and Garcia were later spotted in their cells following a lockdown attempting to wipe the substance from their faces, he testified.
Richard Roberts of the Comanche County Detention Center and a former employee at the local prison and Lawton Correctional Facility Lt. Robert Harding both testified that inmates were identified by watching lengthy sections of video footage from the pod to track each person before and after the stabbing.
As the attack happened, other inmates were in the pod, which was an area where Hispanic gang members were kept segregated from other groups and the general population. Prison officials were cross-examined at length about gang relationships and terms related to the gangs said to be involved in Limpy's death.
Court records show Limpy was serving a life sentence without parole stemming from a 2008 murder in Oklahoma County. He was featured on the U.S. marshals' most wanted page before eventually being captured in Mexico, where the root of the gang dispute believed to be at the root of his death began.