Judge delays trial of man accused of killing 4 in Omaha

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The September murder trial of a man accused of killing four people with ties to an Omaha medical school was put on hold Tuesday when a judge ordered him to undergo another mental health evaluation.

Anthony Garcia was ordered to undergo the testing to see if he's mentally fit to stand trial following his allegations of being sexually abused by jail guards. In documents obtained by The Omaha World-Herald, officials responded that jailhouse videos don't support Garcia's allegations.

Garcia, 42, has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder in the March 2008 slayings of Dr. William Hunter's 11-year-old son, Thomas Hunter, and the family's housekeeper, Shirlee Sherman, as well as the May 2013 killings of Dr. Roger Brumback and his wife, Mary.

Prosecutors believe Garcia was motivated by revenge in both attacks because he had been fired from the Creighton University Medical School pathology department in 2001. Roger Brumback and William Hunter had been instrumental in firing Garcia, and both men subsequently sent letters to medical boards that prevented Garcia from becoming licensed in several states and from finishing other residency programs.

One of his attorneys, Alison Motta of Chicago, said she learned of Garcia's latest allegations against jail guards at Tuesday's hearing. She said Garcia made similar allegations in December 2013 while he was jailed that were later deemed unfounded. The allegations led to his initial evaluation in which he was found competent to stand trial.

Motta speculated that prosecutors' request for the latest evaluation is a stall tactic.

"They know their case is falling apart," said Motta, who filed a motion last week saying Garcia has alibis for the killings.

Tuesday's hearing had originally been scheduled to address accusations of attorney misconduct against Motta. Prosecutors have said Motta threatened a key witness in the Garcia case — an accusation Motta strongly denies.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine did not immediately return a message left Tuesday seeking comment.

Prosecutors also have charged Garcia with burglary, saying forensic evidence linked him to an attempted break-in at the home of another Creighton University Medical School professor.

Garcia's trial had been scheduled to start Sept. 14. A new date trial hasn't been set.

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