STOCKTON (CBS13) — Prosecutors say the man facing child abuse and murder charges after the death of his two-month-old son had been released from prison early due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Matthew Garcia, 24, was arrested last week after the baby was admitted to the UC Davis Medical Center with serious injuries. The baby went into the PICU but was not expected to survive, authorities said; several days later, the baby passed away.
Hospital staff advised police that the baby’s injuries were consistent with child abuse. Investigators believe the alleged abuse happened at the boy’s family’s home in Stockton. Garcia was the boy’s biological father, police say.
San Joaquin County District Attorney Angela Hayes explains that even though Garcia had been convicted of felony burglary and attempted robbery, those are considered serious crimes, not violent crimes, under the law. CBS13 covered his arrest last year following a home invasion robbery with five young children in the apartment.
According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, with pre-sentence and in-custody credits, Garcia was scheduled to be released in December “after serving his full sentence as defined by the law,” which qualified him for early release under the governor’s 180-day COVID-19 release order.
Hayes says while they are often notified when a serious or violent felon is released, so they can warn victims, the state has not revealed the identities of the felons released amid the pandemic.
CBS13 has been pushing the state for answers and transparency for months, and while the penal code does not require they notify the media or DAs, the CDCR tells CBS13, “The department sent notifications to members of the state sheriffs, police chiefs, probation chiefs, district attorneys, and public defenders associations, registered victims.”
According to Hayes, had Garcia served his full time in prison, he would have been in prison on November 11, the day his son arrived at UC Davis Medical Center with serious injuries, reportedly consistent with child abuse.
On Wednesday, Garcia was set to be arraigned in court for the boy’s death but it was rescheduled for Thursday. Still, the district attorney’s office released the criminal complaint they are filing against Garcia.
The complaint shows that Garcia will be charged with a total of three counts, along with enhancements: child abuse resulting in death, murder, and two counts of child abuse/endangerment.
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