Families file against Griffin

March 30, 2011 • Local News

Family members of shooting victims John Bugarin and Johnny Garcia filed a class action lawsuit against Deputy District Attorney John Griffin, Monday.

A motion from defense attorney Gary C. Mitchell was heard on Friday in Judge Freddie Romero’s court to dismiss the charges against Larry Harris. Harris, 48, is charged with the Jan. 12, 2000, killing of John Bugarin. During the 2000 police investigation, Harris admitted to shooting Bugarin in self defense.

The 10-year -old [auth] cold case was reopened at the instigation of Sheriff’s Deputy John Wayne Davis, former Roswell police detective and the investigating officer at the time. The Sherif f’s Office brought in Supervisory Special Agent Robert Morton to view the scene at Preferred Pipes and Tobacco Shop, 1805 S. Sunset Ave.

Morton concluded that the evidence refuted Harris’s testimony. Harris was extradited from Lubbock in April 2010 to face one count of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder.

Officials believe the Bugarin case and the September 1994 murder of Johnny Garcia are linked. Harris’s wife was married to Garcia at the time of his murder.

Immediately after the dismissal hearing, father Enrique Bugarin said, “I am of the belief he (Griffin) is being discriminating. He is being negligent in deciding what cases to prosecute.”

The notice filed in District Court on Monday says “the basis for the lawsuit is … Selective Prosecution, Discrimination, Negligence, failure to properly per form the duties of a Public Service.”

Griffin was unwilling to comment about the lawsuit. According to federal law prosectors are immune from civil action. Nearly 35 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors cannot face civil lawsuits about how they handle criminal cases in court, and unanimously upheld that decision in January 2009.

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