Man, 18, charged in stabbing death at Montrose party

Isaac Garcia

A Montrose grand jury returned indictments in the fatal stabbing of a 19-year-old man, some 16 months after prosecution was declined in the wake of the arrest of former 7th Judicial District Attorney Myrl Serra.

Isaac A. Garcia, 18, of Grand Junction, was indicted Feb. 23 on a lone charge of suspicion of second-degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Zachary Culmer, during a party at 14566 Mustang Lane, Montrose, on Sept. 5, 2010. Garcia was arrested Tuesday and ordered held on $150,000 bond at the Montrose County Jail.

The investigation into Culmer’s death coincided with the Sept. 30, 2010, arrest of Serra, who is serving a one-year prison term following convictions for criminal extortion, unlawful sexual contact and violation of bail-bond conditions. First Assistant Attorney General Jean Woodford, acting head of the Montrose DA’s office at the time, announced five days after Serra’s arrest that charges wouldn’t be filed in Culmer’s death, pending further investigation. Garcia was released from custody that same day.

Culmer was pronounced dead Sept. 5, 2010, at Montrose Memorial Hospital after suffering a stab wound on the left side of his neck.

According to a heavily redacted copy of the indictments released Wednesday, at least two witnesses testified to the grand jury they saw Garcia holding a knife in the kitchen at 14566 Mustang Lane during a fight involving Culmer.

A girl testified she saw Culmer and Garcia fighting, but that she didn’t see Culmer get stabbed. She said she did see Culmer abruptly leave the party and collapse on the ground outside. She said she re-entered the residence and asked who had stabbed Culmer, and Garcia replied, “I did.”

Garcia told Montrose County Sheriff’s Department deputies he had been kicked in the head while fighting with Culmer. But doctors St. Mary’s Hospital who examined Garcia found no signs of a head injury, the indictment said.

Garcia’s attorney in September 2010 raised claims of self defense.


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