A man convicted of slaying a 16-year-old girl in a Costa Mesa park nearly 10 years ago will see his sentence reduced, after an appellate court downgraded his conviction from first- to second-degree murder.
Victor Manuel Garcia, 28, will now have his prison sentence reduced from 25 years to life to 15 years to life, his Orange-based attorney, Kristin A. Erickson, said in a phone interview Wednesday night.
"I'm happy that my client will receive the opportunity for release sooner rather than later," Erickson told the Daily Pilot.
In September 2009, Orange County Superior Court Judge William R. Froeberg, sentenced Garcia on a first-degree murder charge in the September 2001 killing of Ceceline Godsoe in Fairview Park. Garcia was 17 at the time of the killing but was tried as an adult. The case will go back to Froeberg for Garcia's resentencing, Erickson said.
Her client had appealed Froeberg's ruling and was hoping the three-judge panel from the Fourth Appellate District's Third Division would reduce the conviction to manslaughter. A second-degree murder conviction means Garcia will have to appear before a parole board before being released from prison, and a manslaughter conviction doesn't carry such a requirement.