First trial in mistaken identity murder of LU student has begun

Rhydan Bolton and Kristofer Garcia

UPDATE: Kristofer Garcia, 22, of Beaumont was found guilty of murder in the Jan. 19, 2015 shooting death of Rhydan Bolton, 19, a student at Lamar University. The jury later sentenced Garcia to 60 years in prison and a $10,000.00 fine. 

•••

The first of multiple defendants charged in the 2015 shooting death of 20-year-old Lamar University student Rhydan Bolton is on trial this week facing a murder charge. 

After entering a plea of not guilty, alleged gunman Kristofer Garcia is taking his chances with a jury in Judge Raquel West’s 252nd District Court. Also charged in the murder is Kristofer’s cousin, Orlando Garcia, and close family friend Darren Spikes. Each of the murder suspects is also charged with kidnapping related to the plot, along with alleged accomplices Marylou Garcia and Rogelio Garcia.

Orlando Garcia and Spikes have also pleaded not guilty and are awaiting their day in court.

As the state’s case began against Kristofer, several witnesses were called to give accounts of what transpired the night Bolton was shot and killed as he sat in front of a convenience store near the university he attended as a sophomore nursing student.

According to a witness with the accused that day, Kristofer was upset about being passed fake money during a drug transaction. Brushing it off with a promise to get back at the offending counterfeit passer, Kristofer was driving en route to “the warehouse” next to Chili’s on the I-10 feeder to prep food for his aunt when he noticed three young men walking on the street whom he suspected could point him in the direction of where to find the culprit.

“At the time we didn’t know why we stopped,” the witness recalled. But she soon found out. Jumping out of the truck to chase after the pedestrians, the witness said she too assisted in trying to capture them. According to her, Rogelio Garcia caught up to one of the three – a 14-year-old boy forced into their vehicle after they put a bag over his head.

A little older now but still a juvenile, the kidnapping victim took the stand against Kristofer during the first day of testimony Tuesday, Dec. 13.

“They kept asking me where my homeboys were at,” the teen said of his captors. “They kept asking ’bout someone named Anthony.”

According to the victim, he had no clue as to who this “Anthony” character was and said as much to his assailants time and time again. One of the unindicted actors with Kristofer and his fellow accused said she believed the boy when he said he didn’t know what was going on.

“He was scared,” she said. “I was scared.”

“Kris and Orlando took the kid into the room,” she added. “You could hear yelling and screaming from the little boy. I figured something bad was gonna happen.”

For the 14-year-old victim, the boy told the jury, it felt like an eternity. Hands bound with rope, whipped and beaten, the time passed in slow motion. According to testimony from him and others, the teen was held and beaten for at least three hours before being dropped off near his home. Eventually taken to the hospital for treatment, the boy reported the night’s events to police, who responded to investigate.

According to testimony in court and state’s evidence, after beating and bullying the 14-year-old until late in the night, Kristofer, Orlando and Spikes drove to a convenience store near Lamar University where they thought they were targeting “Anthony” for retribution. Instead, as a stream of bullets blanketed the blue Scion in the store’s parking lot, the only casualty was a young college student who had no connection whatsoever to the alleged gunmen or counterfeit money.

Kerrick Madison was in the driver’s seat of the Scion that belonged to Bolton.

“We was just planning on going to the store, getting what we needed, and go home,” Madison said. “We didn’t think nothing was going to happen to us right there where we go to school.”

When he heard shots being fired, Madison ducked for cover underneath the vehicle’s steering wheel. When the shots stopped and he came from his hiding place, it was apparent his friend had been killed.

“He’s right there in the passenger seat,” Madison said. “Dead.

“I got out of the car and ran inside the store. I didn’t know what was going on. I was just so lost in the situation.”

Witnesses who were with Kristofer and the others accused of murder that evening said Kristofer made comments right after it happened to suggest he had committed the crime.

“He was weirdly excited,” one witness said. “(Kris) said, ‘We got him.’

“I just thought it was better to mind my own business.”

 

Kristofer previously rejected a plea deal that would have called for 50 years behind bars. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison.

shadow