Defendant did not make full allocution

I want to set the record straight in regards to “A trigger was pulled” (Herald, Oct. 18). There was much outrage, either openly, in letters to the editor or conveyed to our family in private, regarding the outcome and sentencing of the killer of our son and brother, Ted Garcia. Much of this outrage centered around the minimal sentence Joseph Dernoga received of 16 years plus the five-year sentence he is already serving.

Most importantly, we would like to clear up some confusion regarding the “full allocution.” To allocute in law means to speak out formally. In law, it is generally meant to state specifically and in detail what one did and for what reason, often in relation to commission of a crime. Joseph Dernoga was supposed to make a full allocution in front of Judge Wilson and everyone else in the courtroom.

The Durango Herald quoted him as saying, “A trigger was pulled, a gun discharged. Ted was shot, and then he died.” Our family was more than outraged that the full allocution by Joseph Dernoga was not stated at his sentencing on Oct. 17. We wanted to make sure everyone saw the actual plea agreement that was signed. “The defendant stipulates to the following factual basis. ‘On or about July 23, 2010, in La Plata County, Colorado, the defendant caused the death of Theodore Garcia by shooting Theodore Garcia in the chest with a .270 caliber rifle.’ Defendant will make a full allocution at sentencing.”

We only heard what the killer had the guts to say in front of all of us, Ted’s family and friends. Whether he was trying to leave some doubt in all our minds that he was the one who pulled the trigger we will never know. We will also never know why! We do know that he murdered our son and brother, father, friend.

Our sincere gratitude to the community, family, friends and law enforcement for your support.

Skip Garcia