Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
July 20, 2009
Susan Kang Schroeder
FORMER FUGITIVE CONVICTED OF 2001 BEATING-MURDER OF 16-YEAR-OLD GIRL IN DARK COSTA MESA PARK
*Defendant was the first fugitive to be extradited from Mexico to Orange County for murder committed as a juvenile
SANTA ANA – A former fugitive who fled to Mexico was convicted today of murdering a 16-year-old woman in a park by beating and kicking her to death. Victor Manuel Garcia, 25, formerly of Costa Mesa, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of first degree murder with premeditation and deliberation and faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life at his sentencing on Sept. 18, 2009, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
At approximately 8:00 p.m. on Sept. 21, 2001, 16-year-old Ceceline Godsoe was at Fairview Regional Park in Costa Mesa with a male friend. Garcia was also in the park with two friends and started a conversation with the victim, whom he may have known as an acquaintance. Garcia and the victim walked away together into the park, and Godsoe was never seen alive again.
While alone and isolated in a poorly lit area of the park, Garcia murdered the victim by repeatedly punching and kicking her, rendering her unconscious. Garcia then dragged the victim’s body to a nearby, dark corner of the park and left her where her body would be difficult to see from the main trial. The defendant fled the scene, leaving Godsoe behind, and didn’t call 9-1-1.
Godsoe’s friend, who had been frantically searching for the victim, found her lifeless body two hours later. The victim died from asphyxiation due to the swelling of her throat and blood in her lungs.
Two days after the murder, officers from the Costa Mesa Police Department interviewed Garcia, who claimed he had never met the victim. After speaking with the police, Garcia fled to Mexico, where he remained for several years. During that time, Garcia was featured twice on the Fox television series America’s Most Wanted. Garcia was eventually arrested in Mexico for severely beating his wife and was extradited to Orange County to face murder charges for Godsoe.
Garcia was the first person to be extradited from Mexico to Orange County for committing murder as a juvenile.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.