Friends, family of Janaya Thompson pack courtroom for Garcia sentencing

Friends, family of Janaya Thompson pack courtroom for Garcia sentencing
Janaya Thompson. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Janaya Thompson. (Photo source: WLOX News)

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Alberto Garcia will soon learn if he will be put to death or spend the rest of his life in prison for the sexual assault and murder of 5-year-old Janaya Thompson.

More than 20 family members and friends of the young girl packed a Harrison County courtroom Monday morning for Garcia's sentencing hearing. Garcia pleaded guilty to capital murder on Jan. 18.

The hearing was an emotional roller coaster for those friends and family members.

Graphic photos of Janaya's body were put into evidence. The photos are just some of the evidence presented on the first day of the sentencing phase for Garcia.

Judge Lisa Dodson reviewed crime scene photos and autopsy photos of the child, but sealed the photos so they would not be seen by the public. The photos showed the girl's body hanging from the shower as well as autopsy photos of her injuries.

The court listened to the 911 tape from the night Janaya went missing and heard from the Gulfport police lieutenant who was the first law enforcer on the scene after her body was found.

A police recording made on the night Thompson's body was found was also entered into evidence. In that recording, Garcia told police they would find his fingerprints all over the trailer where the child's body was discovered. A Gulfport police detective drove Garcia to the police station that night after he told investigators he might have information to help them.

In the recording, Garcia talked about playing video games, smoking marijuana, and believing in God. He also told the detective, "Yeah man I heard about what happened. That's crazy," referring to the girl's murder.

Just before the presentation of evidence began, Dodson told the prosecution and the defense about a folder delivered to the court Monday morning that she refused to allow in court. Garcia's attorney said she believed it was a petition urging Garcia be sentenced to death.

"Let the record to show the court does not appreciate this at all and we will be looking for ill motive," Dodson said. "The court will not review what is in the folder, because we know it is meant to sway how we sentence Mr. Garcia."

One of Garcia's attorneys told the judge they wanted to see what was in the folder. Dodson told both sides they could review what was in the folder.

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