After being sentenced to life in prison for stabbing his three young sons, killing two of them, a 25-year-old Lawrenceville man asked relatives to care for the surviving child and “explain to him how much I love him.”
Elvis Garcia-Nelasco assured his three sisters on Tuesday “I’m going to miss you a lot, but I’ll be fine,” upon entering a negotiated guilty plea in a Gwinnett County courtroom to wounding Joshua Garcia, then 3, and killing his two other sons, Bradley, 3, and Edward, 1.
According to prosecutors, Garcia-Nelasco butchered the twins and the infant — stabbing each of them at least seven times — and then stabbed himself. He subsequently called 911 and blamed the attack on their mother’s new boyfriend.
Chief Superior Court Judge Melodie Snell Conner sentenced Garcia-Nelasco to life in prison. He will become eligible for parole in 30 years, but prosecutors will oppose early release, according to District Attorney Danny Porter.
Since the Honduras native who worked as a roofer is in the country illegally, he will likely face deportation if he is ever paroled.
Porter initially intended to seek the death penalty for the grisly attacks. But Porter said he agreed to let Garcia-Nelasco enter the negotiated plea to life in prison because the childrens’ mother did not want Garcia sentenced to death and would have asked jurors for mercy if she had been called to testify. Several other mitigating factors also might have influenced a jury not to seek death for the defendant: Garcia-Nelasco had been drinking and was on “some kind of amphetamine” drug that night, and he had a learning disability, Porter said.
“I think we all react to the killing of a child, but we have to look at our chances (of getting the death penalty) based on the circumstances,” Porter said.
Garcia-Nelasco called 911 on Feb. 9, 2011 and said his children were stabbed and that he had also been stabbed in the heart by Antonio Cardenas, the boyfriend of the children’s mother.
Three-year-old Bradley and 1-year-old Edward were found dead in the basement apartment of the house they shared with another family on Bridle Path Drive near Lawrenceville. Joshua was hospitalized in critical condition.
Cardenas was initially arrested and charged with the murders. However, he was exonerated and freed when financial records and surveillance footage from a local convenience store and a bank ATM proved he was elsewhere at the time.
The focus of the investigation turned to Garcia-Nelasco when Gwinnett County police detectives noticed inconsistencies in his statements and when a medical examiner determined that his stabbing wound was self-inflicted.
Detectives interviewed Garcia-Nelasco at the hospital where he was being treated for his wounds and obtained a confession. Prosecutors said Garcia-Nelasco killed the boys because he had been arguing with their mother over custody.
Garcia-Nelasco did not mention the crime when given a chance to speak. But he apologized in Spanish to his sisters, assuring them of his love for them and for their mother in Honduras.
“I only ask you to take care of Joshua and explain to him how much I love him,” he said through an interpreter.