San Diego Man Sentenced to 32 Years to Life in Prison for Killing Girlfriend

SAN DIEGO—A San Diego man convicted of killing his girlfriend and dumping her body in Mexico was sentenced on July 17 to 32 years to life in state prison.

Nery Roberto Garcia, 36, was found guilty by a San Diego jury on May 15 of first-degree murder in the slaying of 48-year-old Faviola Calderon.

The woman was reported missing on July 29, 2021, after she didn’t show up to work, San Diego police said.

In her closing argument at Garcia’s trial, Deputy District Attorney Carrie Johnson told jurors that Mr. Garcia strangled and stabbed Ms. Calderon in National City in the early morning hours of July 28.

Ms. Johnson alleged Mr. Garcia then drove into Mexico and dumped Ms. Calderon’s body in a desert area about two hours south of the border. He returned to San Diego, drove the victim’s car into Mexico, and left it there, the prosecutor alleged.

Jurors also convicted Mr, Garcia of attempted murder and domestic violence charges stemming from two other incidents, both involving Ms. Calderon.

For the attempted murder count, Ms. Johnson alleged that around two months prior to Ms. Calderon’s death, Mr. Garcia poured rat poison into her water, which caused her to fall ill and sent her to the hospital.

At trial, Mr. Garcia’s defense attorney, John O’Connell, argued there was not definitive evidence that Calderon had been strangled or poisoned.

Two autopsies were performed on Calderon by medical examiners in both Mexico and the United States and neither could conclude she was strangled, Mr. O’Connell argued. He also said testing did not reveal poison in Ms. Calderon or her drink.

The prosecution’s evidence included a series of messages between Mr. Garcia and a friend of his, in which he repeatedly detailed his desire to kill Ms. Calderon because he believed she had cheated on him. One of those messages described strangling Ms. Calderon with a chain, which Ms. Johnson argued was the method Mr. Garcia used to commit the killing.

According to the prosecutor, Mr. Garcia admitted to his friend that he killed Ms. Calderon. He similarly confessed to investigators after his arrest, but Mr. O’ Connell argued that confession was erroneous and Mr. Garcia was “parroting back” details investigators were suggesting during their questioning of him.

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