On March 10, 2021 the New Jersey Supreme court decided the Hudson County case of State v. Gabriel Garcia. The principal issue involved whether the trial court’s suppression of exculpatory evidence was plain error that required the reversal of the defendant’s convictions.
Justice Albin wrote for a unanimous Court in relevant part: The Court considers, under the plain error doctrine, whether the exclusion of a cell phone video depicting defendant Gabriel Garcia’s family members attempting to give their account to the police at the scene of defendant’s arrest and the prosecutor’s summation remarks, directly at odds with the video, denied defendant a fair trial. Defendant was charged with second-degree aggravated assault and related charges stemming from a bloody confrontation with Raymond Urbanski outside of defendant’s mother’s house in September 2016. During a four-day jury trial, the State and defense presented starkly different accounts of the events in dispute. According to Urbanski and his wife, they were outside around 1:00 a.m. when defendant parked two houses away and began “blasting” his horn. Urbanski gestured for defendant to “keep it down,” and walked toward defendant’s car.
Defendant then exited his car with a box cutter in hand and, after a physical struggle, slashed Urbanski’s face and finger. Urbanksi’s wife called the police. Detective Janixza Domenech and other police officers responded. Domenech spoke with Urbanski and took a formal statement from his wife. Domenech stated she canvassed the area for witnesses but found none. She stated that, to her knowledge, no other witnesses came forward. In contrast, defendant testified that, after parking outside his mother’s house and honking his horn three times, Urbanski approached his vehicle and banged on his car roof. When defendant exited the car, Urbanski, armed with a bottle, along with two other armed men, chased defendant. After being punched by Urbanski, defendant pulled a box cutter, used for work, from his belt. Defendant was struck in the head with a bottle; defendant flung his hand in fear and slashed Urbanski’s face.
Here we see a case in which the detective clearly testified falsely with regard to canvassing the area for witnesses. Police routinely lie under circumstances like this when they are testifying on behalf of a prosecution that is conducted by their employer. Their employer is unlikely to bring perjury charges because they are aided by and sometimes complicit in eliciting the perjured testimony.