Roger Garfield Released From Prison and Granted New Trial Based on Change in Self-Defense Law; Former Antiques Dealer Shot Unarmed Homeless Man

Categories: Guns

garfield roger 1.jpg
Image: Ray Stern
Roger Garfield, a former antiques dealers who claimed self defense after shooting an unarmed man in 2006, has been released from prison and granted a new trial.

Roger Garfield, the former antiques dealer who shot and killed an unarmed homeless man in 2006, has been released from prison and granted a new trial based on a change in self-defense laws.

As we explained in our March 11, 2010 article, Shoot to Kill, the prosecution of Garfield for the 2006 shooting in an antique store he once owned turned into a legal odyssey of court rulings and new statutes.

He's been jailed, then released, then jailed, then sent to prison -- and now he's out again. He was in court with his wife last week as a free man, dressed in a short-sleeved shirt and slacks.

His latest brush with freedom may or may not last. He'll stay out of the hoosegow at last until the start of his new trial, which is scheduled for April 24, and possibly longer than that, if the trial's delayed, (always a good bet at the busy Maricopa County Superior Court).

But County Attorney Bill Montgomery is moving ahead with the new prosecution, meaning Garfield will likely face another jury -- and possibly another sentencing hearing, if the new jury makes the same decision as the previous one.

cain bobby.jpg
Image: Bobby Cain's family
Bobby Cain suffered from mental illness and lived on the streets until he was shot by former store owner Roger Garfield.

The saga is tough to boil down, but it's a fascinating case for aficionados of self-defense arguments. We'll give you the nutshell version, but for the full back story, read our 2010 feature article.

Garfield had been an insurance man for 25 years before achieving his lifelong dream in 2006 of opening his own antique store. The place he bought on the southeast corner of Seventh Avenue and McDowell, interestingly enough, was part of a property owned by state Attorney General Tom Horne that Horne is now in the process of redeveloping.

The area is well-known for its homeless population, and Garfield had a run-in with transient Bobby Cain just two days after he set up shop. For months afterward, bad blood ran between the two men. Garfield said he was repeatedly threatened by Cain, who'd had a history of mental health problems.

To protect himself, Garfield bought a little .32-caliber semi-automatic handgun. On April 9, 2006, Cain came into the store and began yelling at Garfield, who drew his gun. When Cain advanced, Garfield shot him four times. The man collapsed and died.

Police and witnesses didn't view the shooting as self defense, despite Garfield's claim that he'd felt in fear of his life.

With the help of high-profile attorney Larry Debus, Garfield managed to stave off a prosecution until 2009. Ultimately, Garfield was indicted on a second-degree murder charge and convicted of manslaughter.

Garfield spent five months in the Maricopa County jail awaiting sentencing following his conviction.

But he was released in August of 2009, just after the Arizona Legislature tweaked the state's self-defense statutes in an effort to help Harold Fish, a retired Glendale teacher who'd claimed self defense after shooting a man on a hiking trail near Clint's Well.

Other cases were also seemingly affected by the new law. Cesar Montes, a Tucson man sent to prison for a 2005 killing he had claimed was self defense, had appealed his conviction based on the law, which the Legislature had intended to be retroactive.

The new legislation reversed a nine-year-old law that made those claiming self defense prove their case. With the change the burden of proof shifts to the state, which must convince a jury that a claim of self defense isn't valid. In theory, that might make it more difficult to prosecute someone using that defense.

Before the law could influence any case, though, it hit a speed bump. In January of 2010, the state Court of Appeals rejected Montes' argument and declared that the Legislature's 2009 law was unconstitutional.

With that new ruling, Garfield was thrown behind bars again. He stayed there until his April 2010 sentencing hearing, at which point Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Cari Harrison decided he needed to spend seven years in prison, minus the roughly 200 days he'd already spent in jail.

Garfield was moved to the state Department of Corrections prison in Florence, where at least the food was much better.

Last January, the Arizona Supreme Court took a look at the Montes case and ruled that the 2009 law was constitutional, after all. Montes was granted a new trial. (Wonks can click here for the ruling.)

Garfield filed another appeal in September, saying the ruling -- and the 2009 law -- affected his case.


My Voice Nation Help
16 comments
malasangre
malasangre

this guy should know  "fear for my life" only works for the piggies.

Walter Concrete
Walter Concrete

Nobody knows what kind of fear he put in to the store owner.  Nobody knows what happened when he had the altercations with the store owner in the past.   He might have threatened the store owner and so he decided to carry a gun for self defense.   Imagine that.    If he kept threatening the owner and then one day he shows up inside the store do you think he was there to browse and perhaps discuss the weather?    I'd think he was there to possibly carry through with his threats.  If the owner feels he can't safely protect himself from his threats then he's entitled to carry a gun and stop the man if he purposefully gets in his personal space with intent to harm him.   The guy was no Santa Claus and by someone describing him as such doesn't make it so, now does it?    No, it was just a way to discredit the store owner because everybody knows Santa Claus would never threaten anyone with bodily harm.    I'd have shot the bastard if I didn't think I could take him with my fists.   Are you supposed to let someone beat you up because they're homeless and mentally ill?   And let them continue to harass you and then what?    Tell them you're sorry that they are homeless and that it's OK to come into your store and threaten you with violence?   

Johnny Skee Mask
Johnny Skee Mask

So what if the store owner was non-White? Does the Republicunt's notion of self-defense still applies to him? I think not. If you think I'm bringing up the "race card" bit. Think about the laws the GOPsuckers are enacting and how they are applied in this content.

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

and another murder walks away with a slap on their wrist. Where are you death penalty loving assholes when we need you?

THAT isn't self defense. That is a prick in AZ using the NRA controlled state legislature to murder someone and get away with it.

Alex
Alex

I live in the neighborhood where this happened-the Homeless man..we all called him Santa,he was always nice to us-he really seemed to mind his own business and when we found out the guy shot him,we stopped going to this business,I also know of one of the employees who left and stopped working for this guy after this,he had worked there for years,before the shooter was managing it.

Johnny Skee Mask
Johnny Skee Mask

I recall that incident last year, in which a self-defense lawyer from Scottsdale, shot the other dude in cold blood, during a road rage squabble. Either that lawyer was a walking time bomb, bent on killing the next person who tailgated him, or he started to developed some "mental" issues.

CJAZ
CJAZ

After reading the 2010 article, it's clear to me that Garfield should be freed. And get a medal.

Crazy homeless people do not have the right to walk into private property and threaten the life of the owners. Garfield's temperament is irrelevant - if an unstable man who has threateened to kill him in the past is insane enough to approach a man with a loaded gun - into "point-blank range" -, then Garfield had every right to shoot him.  

I hope a new jury sets him free.

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

sounds to me like he should get the death penalty you idiot gun lovers love so much.

Criminals Union
Criminals Union

Yes, execute all our victims! Self-defense is a capital offense!

Alex
Alex

Why should he "Get a medal" ? 

Just Another Rider
Just Another Rider

hopefully a homeless guy with a gun will shoot him dead now while he is out of the joint. poor and homeless people never get any respect from society anyway so this story is more proof of that.  but there is hope, blessed are the poor for they are rich in spirit!  quote from that long haired hippie dude in bible named Jesus.

Walter Concrete
Walter Concrete

You attempt to quote Jesus and you advocate murder.  You probably approve of all murder as long as it's in your god's name too.   You're as credible as a half eaten turd in your lunch box.   Give us some more quotes from your holy bible.   I'm sure they'll be just as edifying.

Vince Warde
Vince Warde

I had a hard time figuring out what "Just Another Rider" was getting at, but as a minister, gun owner and former PD chaplain, I can say that anyone who has a gun for self-defense should start every day with a prayer that he or she will NEVER have to use it.  Nothing I own is worth killing someone over.  My family is.Another lesson from this case is the wisdom of having a non-lethal weapon instead or in addition to a firearm.  I never want to be in a situation where my choices are bare hands or a gun.  If Garfield had other options, he might not have needed to use lethal force.Jesus valued all people, and as a result Christians do the bulk of the work of helping them.  I myself have been involved in such work.All of that said, Jesus clearly permitted self defense and told His followers to be armed as they traveled the bandit ridden roads.

Freedomfighter
Freedomfighter

Anyone remember the case with the three boys who burglarized someones home and while they were driving away from the scene the neighbor decided to come out and shoot one of them AS THEY WERE DRIVING AWAY?? Never for a second was that guys life in any danger, he was allowed to use the selfe defense law??? oooohhhh thats right he was actually a former deputy, they are "special people"

Here is the link to that story..how can they have one set of rules for cops and a different set of rules for the rest of us??

http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.c...

Phoenix Justice
Phoenix Justice

Actually, that was a case out of Texas.  He had 2 things going for him:

1.  The ones he shot were Hispanic

2.  He did it in Texas

A reasonable jury would have convicted him of at least manslaughter, but again, it was Texas.

Freedomfighter
Freedomfighter

No it happened in Arizona, Tonopah to be exact . The link is at the bottom of my comment??

Now Trending

Phoenix Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Home

Loading...