Man acquitted of New Year's Day murder

 December 22, 2023

A Los Angeles man was found not guilty of a New Year's Day murder, almost four years after the crime.

The jury found Antonio Garcia, 31, not guilty of murdering Cedric Dawkins, a 29-year-old drug dealer from Arlington, in an early morning shooting in January 2020.

Not guilty in murder case

Dawkins was shot after midnight while selling drugs at his apartment on Streambed Court. Garcia was one of his customers.

Police suspected the assailant was trying to steal from Dawkins, who appeared to blame Garcia with his dying words. The victim told police he received a phone call from "LA" just before the shooting and told police to look for "LA" in his phone contacts.

The police linked "LA" to Garcia, but Garcia's lawyer, Harry White, raised doubts about the testimony of a key eyewitness, a woman who said she saw Garcia with a gun at the scene.

The witness said she saw Garcia "dancing" in the doorway of Dawkins' apartment, as if deciding whether to go inside before she heard gunshots. She did not see the shooting.

“Antonio Garcia did not kill that man,” White told the Star-Telegram. “Sometimes people walk on crimes they did but that’s not what happened here. This was the correct verdict. He was innocent."

Garcia was arrested in Los Angeles in January of 2020 and extradited to Tarrant County to face charges.

Who did it?

If Garcia didn't kill Dawkins, then who did?

White says he identified someone else who is likely the real culprit, but he may never be prosecuted because the police bungled the case.

“Because of the way they tried this case, they may never be able to convict the person who actually did because their star witness is not very believable,” White said.

“The system worked for Antonio Garcia, that’s the most important thing,” White said. “Those 12 jurors may have cast the most important vote of their lives, more important than any presidential election."

But the police are defending their work.

“Our detectives conducted a thorough investigation of this incident,” the statement read. “Based on that investigation, we filed criminal charges against Mr. Garcia and worked with our partners at the Tarrant County DA’s Office to present a case to a jury. We respect the judicial process.”

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