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Suspect in councilman's murder in court

September 18, 2008 6:47:07 PM PDT
The family of murdered Fairfield City Councilman Matt Garcia made a public plea to the prime suspect in the case Thursday to turn himself in. Police have already arrested two people in connection with the killing, but one of them was released from jail Thursday and is now in protective custody as a witness in the case. The other is facing murder charges.

"You guys are doing the wrong thing. I didn't hurt anybody," said Gene Allen Combs, who declared his innocence as he was being led out of a Fairfield courtroom.

The 45-year-old mechanic is now the lone suspect in custody, charged with murdering 22-year-old Councilman Garcia. That is after prosecutors decided not to charge 33-year-old Nicole Stewart in the case. Stewart, who is nine months pregnant, was released from jail earlier in the day.

"No criminal charges will be filed at this time against Nicole Stewart. We are not aware of any admissible evidence that will prove criminal responsibility on her part," said Davis Paulson, district attorney for Solano County.

Prosecutors say they do have the evidence to charge Combs in Garcia's murder. He turned himself in to Fairfield police last Friday, 11 days after the shooting.

"Gene came forward and gave everyone the information," said Ashleigh Stout, a close friend of Combs. "I think this is getting out of hand. He came forward to tell on who was responsible for Matt Garcia's death and he's being charged with something he didn't do."

Police say Combs, Stewart and Williams were all in Williams' car the night Garcia was shot. According to court documents, investigators believe Williams was the shooter, hitting Garcia once in the back of the head.

Garcia's family sat in court as Combs made his first appearance. Afterward, they made a direct appeal to Williams, who is now the object of a nationwide manhunt.

"Please take responsibility of your actions. Turn yourself in and allow justice to prevail in this horrific event that took place," said Raymond Courtemanche, Garcia's stepfather.

Combs will be back in court Monday, expected to be arraigned for murder. Stewart is in protective custody and will testify against both Combs and Williams, if and when the latter is captured.


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