On Friday, March 23, Pedro Garcia of Great Bend, also known at Pedro Garcia Jr. or “Pete,” was sentenced to nine years and nine months in prison on a single count of rape. Court records show the victim was a girl who was 9 or 10 years old at the time of the crime one year ago.
Barton County Attorney Amy Mellor, who handled the prosecution, said Garcia entered a plea and was convicted of the charge on Jan. 26. Barton County District Judge Scott E. McPherson sentenced him to 117 months in the custody of the Kansas Secretary of Corrections on Friday.
The Great Bend Police Department was called to investigate a reported sex crime at Garcia’s Great Bend residence in March of 2017, after the girl’s mother found him asleep in a bed with the child. After the police investigation, Garcia was charged with four counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, alleging he had lewdly touched the child on four occasions dating from as early as April 16, 2016. He was also charged with one count of aggravated criminal sodomy. The criminal complaint was filed last April when Garcia was 29 years old.
After plea negotiations, Garcia appeared in court with his appointed attorney on Jan. 26 and waived his right to a preliminary hearing. The first count was amended to rape, a level 2 person felony, and the other charges were dismissed in exchange for Garcia’s plea of guilty using what it commonly called the “Alford plea.” In such a case, the defendant does not admit to the criminal act and claims to be innocent, but does so to avoid the consequences of being found guilty of more serious charges.
In the 1970 U.S. Supreme Court case North Carolina v Alford, Henry Alford was charged with first-degree murder and facing the death penalty. He said he didn’t commit the crime but that he was pleading guilty to avoid the gas chamber.
At the Jan. 26 hearing in Great Bend, Mellor proffered evidence to show a factual basis for the crime, and Garcia was found guilty by Judge McPherson.