On March 3, Jose Garcia, 42, was arrested and charged with second degree attempted murder, two counts of first-degree assault, second-degree aggravated sexual abuse, first-degree sexual abuse, and endangering the welfare of a child.  On February 29, 2004, Garcia noticed a 4-foot-10, 80 pound, 13 year old girl who walked to the convenience store just minutes from her home.  He decided to wait nearby for her.  As she walked home, the 5-foot-10, 180 pound Garcia pulled her into a garbage-strewn wooded area off the road.  There, he groped her, tore her clothing, and beat her with his fists and her own sneaker, until he thought she was dead.  Then, he dumped her into a shallow ditch, covered her with soil, leaves and a piece of old tire and walked away.  The girl sustained severe head injuries, two detached retinas, and a broken nose as a result of the brutal attack.  She was found by her mother and as her mother ran to her, when the girl collapsed, her mother waved down a motorist and asked to use a cell phone.  She called 911, wrapped her daughter in a neighbor's blue blanket, and together, they waited on the sidewalk for an ambulance to arrive.

Believing she was being robbed, the girl first offered her remaining dollar, but Garcia still attacked.  He threw her into a ditch where he punched her, tried to suffocate or strangle her with a plastic bag, beat her with her shoe, stuffed leaves and twigs into her mouth, pulled her pants off and molested her.  She kicked and punched back for a while but then went limp and stayed motionless in a ditch, playing dead until she could no longer hear her attacker's footsteps.  Then she got up and ran to the road where she met her mother. The girl's decision to feign death probably saved her life after she was attacked.

Authorities said Garcia has written a confession in which he stated he grabbed the girl on a Long Island Expressway access road, sexually assaulted her and savagely beat her with her own sneakers to stop her from screaming and running away.  Garcia has a long record that includes menacing and a DWI bust.  He has used 10 aliases and six different birth dates.  

Garcia was convicted on November 12 of raping and trying to kill the girl.  Jurors returned guilty verdicts on all charges against him after a few hours of deliberation.  He was convicted of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree rape, aggravated sexual abuse, first-degree sexual abuse, two counts of first-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child in a trial that began November 1 before Suffolk County Court Judge Ralph Gazzillo in Riverhead.  Garcia is eligible for sentences of up to 5 to 25 years in prison for the most serious charges, attempted murder, rape and assault.

On December 13, Garcia was sentenced to 65 years in prison.  He received consecutive sentences of 25 years on a count of attempted murder, 25 years on a count of first degree rape, and 15 years on five counts of aggravated sexual abuse.  He also received sentences for lesser assault, sexual abuse and child endangerment charges that will run concurrently with his other prison time.

(Brentwood, New York)