Former Fresno County Sheriff's deputy sentenced to six years in prison for sexually abusing minor

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- He served the community for 31 years, but now a former police officer and sheriff's deputy is heading to prison for six years.

After just five months in jail, a visibly thinner Rex Luna Garcia was brought to court Thursday in a wheelchair, with a new attorney by his side.

San Jose based lawyer Curtis Rodriguez claimed his former counsel failed to provide adequate representation and assistance, but the judge disagreed.

The law enforcement veteran who was caught on camera touching his step-granddaughter while she slept told the judge his greatest concern was never leaving prison alive.

Garcia said, "It's hard to fathom after reading the probation report that what is recommended, that any length of time in custody would probably be more like a death sentence."

Garcia was remanded into custody last December. Jurors found him guilty after just an hour of deliberating.

Attorney Curtis Rodriguez said, "He's not been doing well because of the conditions in the jail, especially given that he was in law enforcement he must necessarily be segregated from the other prisoners, because he would be a target as a former law enforcement officer."

Prosecutor Amy Freeman read a letter from the now 15-year-old victim describing how she felt about the abuse that started when she was seven. The message said, in part, "I question why my 13-year-old self was only enough to be touched in the most horrific ways."

Garcia told the court there are no winners, but he never fessed up to any wrongdoing.

Judge Jonathan Conklin said he had no doubt the crime occurred- and found the victim was credible and courageous. But he also had to balance Garcia's lack of any prior criminal history.

Conklin said, "I will note in imposing that term, that this is an 85 percent term, so Mr. Garcia's not going to get half time, good time credits. He will be pushing 80 years old if he survives his sentence by the time he's released."

The victim's mother said she struggles with the fact she left her daughter in a place she thought was safe. In the care of a relative, she felt was a loving grandparent.

She said, "I don't understand. I don't understand why you did it. I don't understand why you are not sorry."

Garcia had a stroke a year and a half ago. Based on his health problems and age he fears another major setback.

Garcia said, "I've been in fear that for the whole five months that I've been in custody that I'm going to have a recurring stroke because of the stress."
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