After a morning of tearful testimony from both sides, a 19-year-old man who pleaded guilty to unintentionally killing a bar owner and teacher in Mahtomedi, Minn., last winter was sentenced Friday to 27 years in prison.
Washington County District Judge Ellen Maas sentenced Bailey Garcia for the shooting that took David Frigaard’s life. Garcia pleaded guilty in May to unintentional second-degree murder by drive-by shooting in May.
Frigaard, 46, was shot in the chest the night of Jan. 24 while sitting at a stop sign after closing his Willernie bar, Frigaard’s.
Garcia, who lives in Pine Springs, told investigators he first shot a few deer near Stillwater Road and Mahtomedi Avenue, then aimed his rifle at a pickup truck and fired, according to a criminal complaint. He said he had downed three beers and a shot of rum before the incident.
But he walked out of the house that night planning to hurt himself, not anyone else, his mother, Katie Garcia, said in court.
“Imagine waking up the morning after you went out to kill yourself and realizing you did something totally different,” she said in tears.
A doctor hired by the defense to determine Garcia’s mental state at the time of the shooting recommended against a mental illness defense, but defense attorneys said they hoped that Garcia’s history of mental illness would be enough for a lesser sentence.
Defense attorneys Ryan Pacyga and Anthony Bussa, seeking a lesser sentence of 12 1/2 years, filed a motion this week that Garcia be sentenced under guidelines for second-degree unintentional murder — without the drive-by shooting factor.
Maas denied the motion.
Maas said that she took Garcia’s age and mental health into account but that the killing was “a horrible, horrible crime.”
“Dead is dead,” Maas quoted from testimony given by the victim’s mother, Avis Frigaard.
The corrections officer who interviewed Garcia as part of the pre-sentence investigation recommended the maximum sentence of 30 years, saying he showed signs of being a public safety concern in the future.
Several of Garcia’s family members and friends testified that he suffered from severe depression and was a selfless and caring young man who would never intentionally hurt anybody.
One after another, they took the stand and struggled to make sense of why a brother, son and friend who loves his family and slept next to a memorial to his childhood dog would end someone’s life.
Bailey Garcia had depression for several years and twice tried taking his own life, Craig Garcia said in an interview last week. He walked in on his son the second time and saw blood streaming down his wrist. He was 17 years old.
“(Bailey) turned around and looked right through me,” he said. “I don’t think anyone understands depression unless they have it, but when I looked at my boy and he looked through me — I knew it was deep.”
Denise Frigaard cried while she spoke of losing her husband of 18 years.
“David was my everything … the loss and stress from David’s death is unbearable,” she said. “My children now have to grow up without the man who loved them the most.”
David Frigaard, who lived in Roseville, was an art teacher at Park High School in Cottage Grove in addition to owning the Willernie bar. He worked several jobs, his wife said, so she could be a stay-at-home mother for their three children.
Frigaard worked with at-risk youth at his school, family and friends testified.
“If David would have known the defendant was sitting on the side of the road, contemplating suicide, he would have been the first to help,” his sister, Gwen O’Neil, said.