Similar Fingerprints Lands Wrong Garcia in Jail Until DNA Exonerates Him

Mexican National Spent Six Weeks in Jail

Yahoo Contributor Network

Garcia is one of the most popular surnames in America. Unfortunately for Adalberto Izaquierdo Garcia, that fact contributed to landing the Mexican national in jail. Unfortunately for authorities in Kansas City, Mo., they got the wrong suspect even though fingerprints matched that of another suspect with a similar name and nearly similar birth date. The Kansas City Star relates the strange, but true, facts of the case.

* Garcia tried to enter the United States in Texas to attend his mother's funeral Dec. 11. The 36-year-old handed over his documents at the border and requested a humanitarian visa. His wife noticed the border agents took a long time. After running Garcia's fingerprints, border guards took him into custody and extradited him to Jackson County, Mo.

* It took lawyers and prosecutors six weeks to determine Garcia was the wrong person. Another man, Alberto A. Garcia, was wanted for skipping out on his trial regarding a 1997 manslaughter charger from an automobile accident.

* Both of the Garcia men were born on the same day, just three years apart. Somehow, authorities in Missouri also determined the fingerprints were a match just as they did in Texas.

* Alberto Garcia's manslaughter charge stemmed from an accident in July 1997. That particular person was allegedly traveling 80 mph down a residential street, killing his 20-year-old passenger. After blood samples and DNA were taken at the hospital, the suspect was released on $15,000 bond and charged with involuntary manslaughter.

* Alberto Garcia was arrested again in 2008 and was due to stand trial. Instead, he skipped out and hasn't been found since.

* Adalberto Garcia had his wife sent employment papers and other documents proving he had an alibi. Meanwhile, the man who spent six weeks in jail insisted he was never in trouble with the authorities in Missouri. The suspect was expelled from Texas on one occasion.

* A judge ordered a DNA test on Jan. 25. A few days later, the tests revealed the Garcia in jail was not the same one who was involved in the accident over a decade ago.

* Henri Watson, Adalberto Garcia's Kansas City attorney hired by the Mexican consulate, told the Star, "It's the first time in 42 years I've heard about anything like this."

* The reasons the fingerprints matched are unclear. Perhaps the samples were too old. Another theory is that authorities in Texas took Adalberto Garcia's prints five years ago and matched them with Alberto Garcia's name.

* A search of Missouri Case Net records indicates Alberto Garcia's bond is currently set at $100,000 cash-only from a docket entry in August 2008. Involuntary manslaughter is a class C felony in Missouri, punishable by up to seven years in prison .

* Garcia is the eighth-most popular surname in the United States as of the 2000 Census. More than 850,000 occurrences of the name showed up on census forms that year.

* Watson has been practicing law for more than 30 years with a law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1970. His specialties are personal injury and immigration law.

* Adalberto Garcia missed his mother's funeral in Texas because of the mistaken identity. He also missed Christmas with his wife and three children. He works as a laborer along the Mexican border with the United States.

* Alberto Garcia is still at large. He still faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and has a warrant out for his arrest.

William Browning, a lifelong Missouri resident, writes about local and state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Born in St. Louis, Browning earned his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Missouri. He currently resides in Branson.

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