After only 20 minutes of deliberation, a jury once again convicted a man of fatally shooting a man over spilled beer and a racial slur.
Wednesday’s trial was Lamarc Garrett’s second time through the process, after he was granted a retrial because jurors were shown a piece of evidence they were not supposed to see. Garrett, of St. Louis, had been charged with first-degree murder in the September 2015 fatal shooting of Oscar Carbajal, who was also from St. Louis.
“(Carbajal) was shot in cold blood for no reason other than the defendant was mad,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Steve Sallerson. “You don’t get to kill someone because of what they said.”
One of Carbajal’s friends, Fernando de la Torre, testified that a man who he identified as Garrett, came up to him and asked for one of his beers on the night of Carbajal’s death. De la Torre said he told Garrett it was “not a problem.” Carbajal got out of his car and went up to the pair, and called Garrett a racial slur and said black people “want everything for free,” he said.
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As de la Torre tried to hand Carbajal the case of beer, he dropped it and some of the bottles broke, splashing beer onto Garrett’s shoes. A witness told police Garrett said, “You gonna buy me new shoes?”
Video surveillance from the Sauget gas station where the shooting took place showed Garrett getting into his vehicle at the gas pump after the encounter, then stepping out and placing the pump back into the gas tank. He walked back over to the men, who were buying another case of beer.
He then took a handgun out from under his shirt, shot Carbajal, and turned and ran back to his car, a rented blue 2015 Ford Fusion, prosecutors said.
“When you shoot someone in the chest from 18 inches away with a .45 caliber bullet, you know it’s going to kill them,” said Assistant State’s Attorney John Trippi.
During closing arguments, Trippi and Sallerson went through the evidence with jurors, pointing out each detail that tied the case to Garrett. A blue 2015 Ford Fusion that Garrett had rented, Jordan shoes, the clothes Garrett had been wearing.
Defense Attorney Gregory Nester argued that all the evidence against Garrett was circumstantial, that there was no evidence linking him to the crime. Nester declined further comment after Garrett’s guilty verdict came down.
Garrett acted out during the trial Wednesday, and mumbled as witnesses and Judge Richard Kelley spoke. When a firearms expert testified that a magazine that had held eight bullets only contained seven when it was found, Garrett said, “You could’ve taken it out.”
Kelley told him he was “perilously close” to being removed from court. In the afternoon session Wednesday and during closing arguments, Garrett was not present. He came back in to hear the verdict, and again spoke as Kelley thanked the jury for their time.
“God bless y’all anyways,” Garrett said after the jury delivered the verdict.
Sallerson and State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly both said they were happy with the outcome of the retrial.
“The Major Case Squad did an excellent job pursuing this case and we’re glad the jury saw through the defendant’s behavior,” Kelly said. “The court gave everyone a fair trial under difficult circumstances, circumstances caused by the defendant alone.”
Garrett’s bond was revoked after his conviction. His sentencing was set for Feb. 26.