Atty: Crime Spree Suspect Could Get Leniency

Group claims suspect was abducted in 2009 and taken to Mexico

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 7 San Diego
    Images of Cindy Garcia captured in a jail interview on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012.

    The suspect in a major San Diego crime spree may see less jail time due to her history of being victimized, according to one attorney.

    18-year-old Cindy Garcia was taken into custody following a series of violent crimes that included two shootings, three robberies, carjackings and the burning of three vehicles.

    Click here for a timeline of events in the crime spree.

    Criminal defense attorney Gretchen Von Helms said Garcia could get leniency from the court because of her history of being victimized.

    Crime Spree Suspect's Family Speaks Out

    [DGO] Crime Spree Suspect's Family Speaks Out
    In an NBC 7 exclusive interview, Chris Chan speaks to the family of crime spree suspect Philip Hernandez, a former firefighter who allegedly went on a violent rampage throughout San Diego and was ultimately killed in a shootout with police.

    Marisa Ubarte, Executive director of the Bilateral Safety Corridor said Garcia was abducted in 2009 when she was just 14 years old, taken to Mexico and used for sex.

    Ubarte’s non-profit group rescued her two months later. She ran into Garcia at the courthouse shortly after Garcia was arraigned and felt that people should know she is also a victim.

    Teen Suspect Is a Victim: Expert

    [DGO] Expert: Crime Spree Suspect Is a Victim
    Marisa Ugarte felt the need to speak up on behalf of 18-year-old Cindy Garcia after running into the young woman in court moments after Garcia's arraignment. NBC 7's Diana Guevara reports.

    “You’re looking at a child that is looking at a father figure that the first time she was kidnapped into Mexico was by a 30 year old," she said.

    In a jailhouse interview, Garcia told NBC 7 that she and her companion Philip Hernandez, who was shot in Barrio Logan at the height of the crime spree investigation, were involved in a serious romantic relationship. She said the two were married in Lake Tahoe this past June when she was just 17 years old.

    Garcia claimed she and Hernandez were “in love” despite their rocky past, which includes accusations of rape by Garcia against Hernandez when she was 16 years old.

    “In her particular case, she was kidnapped at a very young age and she was forced into sexual activity. That scars her forever,” said Von Helms.

    Von Helms also points out that Garcia is a victim of statutory rape.

    “That 'Stockholm Syndrome,' that identifying with your captors for survival, in order to survive, some of these young victims and even older victims start identifying with their captors,” said Von Helms, “and that is a mental health disorder that needs to be examined.”

    She said due to her past issues, Garcia was not likely acting with the full intent to commit the alleged crimes and that the issue will likely be addressed in either in a plea bargain or a jury trial.