A Tooele couple is facing criminal charges after the husband struck an autistic child and his wife misled police.
Gregory Karl Garcia, 29, is charged with third-degree felony intentional or reckless abuse or neglect of a disabled child and misdemeanor assault. Jennifer Parkinson Garcia, 35, is charged with two counts of third-degree felony obstructing justice.
On March 19, Tooele City police responded to a report of child abuse, where an investigator met with the alleged victim’s mother, according to a probable cause statement. The mother told police her 11-year-old son, who is autistic and non-verbal, had returned home from the Garcia residence with bruising on his neck, a black left eye, and a swollen right cheek.
The Garcias babysat the victim at their Vine Street residence, according to the statement.
The victim’s mother said Jennifer Garcia told her that the bus driver said the boy hit his eye on the bus, the statement said. The mother requested surveillance footage from the bus from the Tooele County School District on the day of the incident and the footage did not show the victim hitting his eye.
A Tooele City police detective also reviewed the footage and the victim can be seen clearly in the video and “nothing happens during the drive that would have caused the victim’s injuries,” according to the probable cause statement. The driver and bus aide were also interviewed by police and confirmed they saw nothing that could have caused the victim’s injuries.
Investigators met with Jennifer Garcia on April 13 and asked her why the victim had no marks or injuries when she took custody of him from the bus, but did when he was picked up by his mother, the statement said. She told police she had “no idea” how that happened.
When the investigator said he didn’t believe her, Jennifer Garcia said she didn’t see it happen, the statement said. Police confronted her about inconsistencies between the story she told the victim’s mother.
Then, Jennifer Garcia told police her 7-year-old son told her that her 5-year-old son had punched the victim after he pinched their 1-year-old niece, the statement said. She told police she wasn’t sure if it was true, as her 7-year-old son had anger problems and may have been the one who hit the victim.
The same day, investigators interviewed Gregory Garcia, who admitted to becoming angry with the victim after he pinched Garcia’s 1-year-old niece, according to the probable cause statement. He also admitted to grabbing the victim by the neck and hitting him in the face.
Gregory Garcia told police his wife was in the vicinity when it happened and she got in front of him to calm him down, the probable cause statement said.
In the probable cause statement, prosecutors said they believe Jennifer Garcia told police her young sons hit the victim under the belief they would not be charged with a crime.
Gregory Garcia is scheduled to return to 3rd District Court for a waiver hearing on Oct. 2 at 9 a.m. before Judge Matthew Bates. Jennifer Parkinson Garcia is scheduled to return to court on Oct. 2 at 1:30 pm. for a scheduling conference before Bates.