UTAH STATE PRISON — Thomas Robert Garcia was sent to prison in 1970 for burglary. After his sentence ended, he was released and lived in society without a major offense until he was convicted of killing a Tennessee man in 1981.
Garcia and another man beat and stabbed Sam Beare, 29, of Memphis, and dumped Beare's body on the lawn of East High School. An off-duty University of Utah police officer saw three people dragging the body, stopped them near 800 South and 800 East, and arrested them.
Nearly 24 years and three parole hearings after his November 1981 murder conviction, Garcia, 47, was back in front of a Board of Pardons and Parole hearing officer Tuesday to make his case for getting back into society.
His chances don't look so good.
While discussing Garcia's case with him, hearing officer Andy Taylor said that between June 1995 and 2005, Garcia has had 28 major disciplinary violations at the Utah State Prison in Draper.
The violations are for refusing a direct order, possessing drugs, refusing a drug test, possessing a weapon, abusing medications and at least five violations for fighting.
"I've never had a fight since I've been here," Garcia said. "I'm the only person in my cell."
Garcia is a resident of the prison's Uinta 1 facility, known as Supermax to the inmates. Uinta 1, a maximum-security housing unit, is reserved for inmates who need special protection, are on death row or are management problems.
They wear orange jumpsuits instead of white like the majority of inmates.
Taylor said he plans to look into the circumstances of Garcia's disciplinary violations in the coming weeks but probably will recommend to the Board of Pardons that Garcia have another rehearing in a few years.
He asked Garcia if he was ready to move on with his life, and Garcia said he is. But Taylor was concerned Garcia isn't advancing himself and trying to get out of maximum security. Garcia blamed that on being locked in his cell.
"You haven't shown me that you will adjust yourself to society," Taylor said.
"I tried to do better and I just failed," Garcia said.
Garcia mentioned Beare's family just once during the hearing.
"There's nothing I can do except to apologize to his wife and his family when I get out, if I get out," he said.
Contributing: Natalie Clemens