Garcia charged with murder, 11 other counts

Oscar Villegas Garcia

Oscar Pastor Villegas Garcia of Milton-Freewater now faces a charge of murder plus 11 other counts stemming from the May 26 knife attack that left his wife dead and children injured.

A Umatilla County grand jury indicted Garcia, 26, on Wednesday. He appeared Friday afternoon via video from the Umatilla County Jail for an arraignment in circuit court in Pendleton. District Attorney Dan Primus said the charges are as follows: one count of murder; four counts of attempted aggravated murder; two counts of first-degree assault; three counts of unlawful use of a weapon; and two counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment.

Milton-Freewater police the morning of May 26 responded to the couple’s home at 362 N.E. 13th Ave., Milton-Freewater, according to Oregon State Police, and found Garcia, his wife, Maria Villegas, 24, and their children, a 4-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy, with stab and cut wounds. Maria Villegas died that day at a Walla Walla hospital. The children were treated at hospitals and later released to family.

Garcia still had a bandage covering his throat at Friday’s proceeding.

Circuit Judge Lynn Hampton kept Garcia’s bail at $5 million. Attorney Jill Weygandt with Intermountain Public Defenders, Pendleton, told the court she was standing in for fellow attorney Kara Davis and held off on entering a plea. She also asked for a bail hearing.

Primus said it would take 30 days to provide the public defenders with relevant reports and documents. Hampton set the morning of July 5 for Garcia to enter a plea and to consider the evidence to hold him in jail without bail.

Weygandt also advised Garcia not to talk to anyone about his case except his attorney. Garcia said he has yet to meet her. Weygandt responded she expected Davis to meet with him next week.

Nearly 20 people attended the arraignment. Primus and his chief deputy prosecutor, Jackie Jenkins, met with them afterward as victims of the crimes.

Supporters of the Garcia family have held events and set up a Gofundme account to raise money to benefit the children and pay medical and other expenses. The fund had almost $6,400 as of Friday afternoon.

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