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Man with 7 prior domestic violence convictions gets 20 years for woman's death

Denver prosecutors said they pushed for the maximum sentence of 67 years for Thomas Garcia after his conviction for the death of Karen Morales.

DENVER — A Denver judge sentenced a man to 20 years in the Department of Corrections for his girlfriend's 2020 death despite prosecutors asking for a much longer sentence due to his seven prior domestic violence convictions.

Judge Michael Spear sentenced Thomas Garcia on March 17 after he was convicted in January for the death of 38-year-old Karen Morales.

“Given the facts of Thomas Garcia’s violent assault and strangulation of Karen Morales, his lengthy assaultive history against women as well as the fact that he was on probation for a prior domestic violence offense at the time of this offense, we believed a 67-year sentence would not only serve to punish Thomas Garcia’s behavior but also ensure that the community remains safe,” said Assistant District Attorney Maggie Conboy.

On Jan. 23, 2020, Garcia, now 41, called 911 to report that his Morales was not breathing and they had gotten into a fight. Fire and paramedics arrived at the 2500 block of South University Boulevard where they discovered Morales on an air mattress with obvious injuries that included a large laceration on her forehead and bruising on her face. A belt was found underneath her neck.

 According to prosecutors, the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner was unable to determine a cause of death. As a result they ultimately charged Garcia with attempted murder, assault in the first degree - strangulation and second degree assault.

On Jan. 17, a Denver jury found Garcia guilty of all counts. The jury also found each act was one of domestic violence.

At the time of the crime, Garcia was on probation after he pleaded guilty to a menacing charge on June 28, 2018. That case was a domestic violence incident involving a different woman. Garcia was originally granted probation for two years but was facing revocation of that probation due to his conviction in the case involving Morales.

Credit: Denver Police

The judge also sentenced Garcia to serve two years for the menacing case.

Through sentencing, the prosecutors argued that Garcia deserved the maximum sentence given this was his eighth domestic violence conviction, with seven different women.

“Karen Morales was so much more than a domestic violence victim. Despite the fact that her murderer will be a free man in about 10-15 years, our family will continue to honor her memory as she was; a beautiful energetic woman who was actively moving toward her goal of the best version of herself, with a loving heart," said her niece, Christine Casados.

"At this point we can only hope and pray that along with the women he victimized, Karen was his last victim and there will be no others that will suffer at his hands ever again. We will always have a heart for women who are hoping for a way out, and are praying for all of them hurting today, as well as hoping for stricter laws on domestic violence offenders. Karen's life did not have to be cut so short if he was properly sentenced, rehabilitated & supervised for his previous crimes.”

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