Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
September 18, 2009
Susan Kang Schroeder
FORMER FUGITIVE SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS TO LIFE FOR 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 sentenced today to 25 years to life in state prison for 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 on July 20, 2009, of one felony count of first degree murder with premeditation and deliberation.
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 trail. 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.
Godsoe’s father who attended every hearing and was in trial everyday made the following statement at the sentencing:
Ceceline’s young life was ended by a series of killing force, one after another. Hatred kicked into her pretty young girl’s face and the mortal target of her throat. So many possibilities were cut off that night on the bluffs where she died. She and I will never be able to look back on the agony of those teen years and laugh together. Instead, I have many treasured memories and many regrets. How many times a day I think of her, I cannot tell you. When I see the beauty of clouds floating and the wind in the trees, I know she is not in the world to enjoy it. The absence becomes more poignant.