Mom says man showed interest in girl before they vanished

This undated file photo released by the Santa Ana, Calif., Police Department shows Isidro Garcia. Testimony is expected to begin Tuesday, Feb. 16, in the trial of Garcia, charged with raping and abducting his girlfriend’s 15-year-old daughter, but he says the teen ran away with him willingly and eventually married him and bore his child. (Santa Ana Police Department via AP, File)

FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) — A woman testified Tuesday that a former boyfriend who is accused of raping and kidnapping her teenage daughter started to show a preference for the girl and bought her clothing and shoes soon after she arrived in California from Mexico.

The woman took the stand in the trial of Isidro Garcia, 42, who is charged with abducting her 15-year-old daughter in 2004. Garcia has pleaded not guilty and contends the girl ran away with him willingly.

The girl stayed with Garcia for a decade, married him and bore his child under a fake name, authorities say.

The mother testified that she and Garcia would fight often after her two older daughters arrived from Mexico in 2004. She said he would tell the eldest of her three daughters that her mother did not love her.

Prosecutors also are expected to call the now-grown woman to testify about the day she disappeared with Garcia after a fight at the family’s apartment in Santa Ana.

A decade later, the woman reunited with her mother and a sister after she reached out on Facebook.

They devised a plan for her to escape Garcia, who had told his wife that she would be arrested and deported if she left and beat her when she tried, prosecutor Whitney Bokosky said during the trial’s opening statements last week.

The account differs widely from the image of a happy couple presented by defense attorney Seth Bank. He showed jurors photos of the couple smiling at their wedding and at their daughter’s birthday parties and told them of the family’s trips to Disneyland and Las Vegas.

The case drew widespread attention in 2014 after Garcia’s wife went to authorities near their home in Bell Gardens and said she was the subject of a missing-person report filed 10 years earlier by her mother.

After Garcia’s arrest, neighbors said they were shocked because the couple seemed so happy together.

Garcia is charged with rape, kidnapping and lewd acts on a child. If he is convicted of the kidnapping charge, he could face a life sentence.

Garcia acknowledged having an inappropriate sexual relationship with the teen but said he did not rape or abduct her, Bank said. He genuinely loved his wife and worked hard as a janitor and machine operator to provide for his family, the attorney said.

The girl had willingly left an unhappy home to build a life with Garcia and fabricated the abduction tale years later when she began to regret her choice and wanted to reunite with her family, Bank said.

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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