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Jury Urges Execution in Murder, Assault : Courts: Victim’s widow, who survived being shot, hugs panelists. Verdict was returned after six-day deadlock.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Superior Court jury Friday recommended that Randy Eugene Garcia be put to death for the 1993 home-invasion murder of a Torrance man, sparking an emotional display of gratitude by the man’s wife, who was shot and assaulted in the attack.

Alternately smiling and sobbing, Lynn Finzel embraced the jurors Friday morning, offering thanks after they returned the death sentence for Garcia, 24.

“Thank you,” Finzel told jurors over and over outside the Downtown courtroom. “Thank you very much.”

She also slipped a laminated picture of herself and her late husband--locked in an embrace--into the hands of each juror. On the reverse side was a poem titled “Live Each Day to the Fullest,” and a thank you note that said, “I will always be grateful to you for the justice we received.”

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Garcia, an Oregon resident convicted in December of killing Joseph Finzel, dropped his folded hands and quietly stared at a wall after the jury’s verdict was read. At the same time, at least three jurors were wiping away tears.

The jurors delivered their verdict after six days of what several of them described as grueling deliberations. During that period, the jury foreman twice told Judge Jacqueline A. Connor the panel was deadlocked. But Connor ordered them to continue meeting.

The final holdout against the death sentence changed her mind Thursday night, other jurors said. The juror was not identified.

Juror Kellie Saver, referring to Garcia’s history of burglary arrests before the murder, said: “He had choices, he had chances, and he always chose the bad road.”

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Juror Carlis McIlroy said: “There was just no other verdict we could come up with,” but added: “It took a lot out of us.”

Connor will sentence Garcia on March 23. The judge could disregard the jury’s recommendation and sentence him to life without the possibility of parole.

The May 8, 1993, attack on the Finzels shocked and frightened much of the South Bay. According to police and prosecutors, Garcia had come to Torrance to buy marijuana, planning to sell it back in Portland. He randomly chose the Finzel’s house to burglarize, entering the north side Torrance home through an open door. Discovering Lynn Finzel, he tied her up and assaulted her as the couple’s 6-month-old daughter slept nearby.

When Joseph Finzel, 29, arrived home a short time later, Garcia shot and killed him with one of the family’s guns. Garcia shot Lynn Finzel twice as she lay on a water bed and then spent the next two hours ransacking the house.

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Lynn Finzel played dead in the bullet-pierced water bed until Garcia left, then crawled to a neighbor’s house to call for help. Garcia was arrested in Oregon the next week.


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