1989 cold case murder suspect arrested

By: Chiara Lotierzo Email
By: Chiara Lotierzo Email

After nearly 20–years a suspected cold case killer is being brought to justice.

The suspect was arrested in Mexico, where authorities believe he's been hiding since the brutal murder happened back in July of 1989.
Rafael Aguilar AKA "Shorty" Garcia is charged with murdering Charles Porter.

Police say Porter was dating Garcia's ex–wife.

The arrest affidavit says Garcia's jealousy drove him to stab porter, shoot him at close range with a shotgun, and threaten his ex-wife and children before taking off into the night, never to be seen again.

Until now.

"I remember it was a very dark night, and you were searching for a person that was armed, with a shotgun.”

Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey remembers clearly being sent out on the manhunt for Rafael "Shorty" Garcia.

"I remember thinking to myself, at any moment, he had the advantage, any one of us could be taken by a person like that."

The Sheriff's Office tried desperately to find Garcia, but he disappeared into the orchards, and was gone.

The victim's neighbors say they thought that was the end of it.
"Well I didn't think they'd ever catch him. They didn't catch him right away, so why would they ever?"

Doris and John Butler still live just across the street and remember waking up in the middle of the night to the crime scene and the brutal details.

"Shot him through the door, but anyway, yeah, locked himself in the bedroom but somehow Shorty got to him anyway."

But after nearly two decades.

“Rafael Garcia Aguilar was arrested in Mexico on April 30th."

The Mesa County Sheriff's Office, working with the DA's office, the Colorado Attorney General's Office, and the Mexican government have finally tracked him down, arrested him, and charged him with first degree murder.

"My clear preference would be to have him brought back here and brought to justice in Mesa County"

But, District Attorney Pete Hautzinger says because of Colorado's death penalty and Mexico's constitution against it, combined with the age of the case and his refusal to lessen charges, Garcia will be prosecuted in Mexico.

And Hautzinger says that's what the victim's family wants.
"They're scared to death of Mr. Garcia, they were pretty adamant they would rather he not come back to this country."

LuzMaria Shearer with the Colorado Attorney General's Office says it's now in the hands of Mexico's court system.

"It could take another several months, maybe 18–22 months before we have a sentencing order"

Hautzinger says he expects that to be the end of it.

"I am fairly confident that he's going to spend the rest of his life in a Mexican prison"

A long time coming for Sheriff Hilkey.

"I drive by it all the time, and every single time I've driven by I think of this case, every single time."

The case is now in the hands of Mexican officials.

LuzMaria Shearer with the Colorado Attorney General's Office says trials in Mexico are held by documentation, no jury, no oral arguments.

But, she says she feels confident in the case documentation, and thinks the proper sentence will eventually be handed down.

To read Garcia's arrest warrant, click the link below.

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