Rapid City man sentenced for fatal 2017 shooting
RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Rapid City man who shot and killed 20-year-old, Clinton Farlee in Oct. 2017, will spend 45 years behind bars for what was described in Pennington County court Thursday as a “senseless act with no meaning”.
The courtroom was filled with loved ones to await the sentence. Farlee’s family and friends wore shirts with his face on them in his honor.
Maricelo Garcia, 22, was originally charged with first-degree murder alongside Cierra Walks, 19, who was charged with accessory to murder. In 2018, the two alleged they were not arrested legally on Indian land but their motion to suppress the evidence gathered in their arrest was denied. Walks, has also pleaded guilty to being an accessory to murder and is awaiting her sentencing.
Garcia accepted a plea deal to first-degree manslaughter on January 31, with the condition that his sentence would not exceed 45-years in jail. Agreeing to cap the sentence is something that Judge Jane Wipf Pfeifle says she doesn’t do often.
Before the sentence was handed down, Farlee’s mother, Kayla, spoke before the court, placing two photos of her son on the state’s desk while she spoke. Kayla described her son as someone who excelled in school, took education seriously, cared for others, and made mistakes, but learned from them.
She said her son’s death “could’ve been prevented” as she looked at Garcia.
The day before the shooting, Garcia went to Farlee’s home with a gun to confront him about a feud between two women, said Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Lara Roetzel in court. Farlee walked away but Garcia returned the next day, gun in hand. Farlee walked away again, according to Roetzel, but Garcia kicked in the door and told the woman 7-months pregnant with Farlee’s child, to move over before he fired the single, fatal shot.
Garcia’s attorney, Matthew Rapold, spoke of Garcia as someone who takes full responsibility for his actions and is truly remorseful and sorry. Rapold asked Pfeifle to consider a sentence that focuses on the rehabilitation and said he believes it can be accomplished in under 45 years.
Garcia then stood to address the court, asking to face Farlee’s family and friends so he could address them for the first time.
“I’m truly sorry,” said Garcia. “I’m just sorry. Sorry for everything. I’m sorry to my family. I love you guys.”
After both state and defense were able to speak, Pfeifle addressed the court, bringing attention to societal issues in the community. “This is very challenging,” said Pfeifle. “I’m tired of sentencing young men who carry weapons and use them inappropriately.”
She said the initial dispute was “frankly so minor” and she struggled most with statements from the mothers of both Farlee and Garcia who described this as a “senseless choice” and “horrific act”, respectively. Pfeifle took into account dozens of letters from family, friends, and teachers, when determining the sentence, reading every letter twice.
Garcia’s 45-year sentence includes the 558 days he has already served. He is also ordered to pay court costs and over $21,000 in restitution.
“Good luck to you sir,” said Pfeifle before adjourning.