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Edgar Garzon’s Killer Sentenced

Jim Burroway

October 18th, 2008

A judge in Queens Friday sentenced John L. McGhee to 22 years to life for killing of 35-year-old Edgar Garzón (pictured) in 2001.

Shortly before 4 a.m., on Aug. 15, 2001, Edgar was walking home after leaving a gay bar in Jackson Heights when McGhee jumped out of a car and savagely attacked him with a baseball bat or a lead pipe. Garzón’s skull was crushed. He died on September 4, 2001 in Elmhurst Hospital Center. He never regained consciousness.

According to police, at least two men were present at the assault who drove away in a red car. One of them, Christopher Ricalde, 14 at the time, came forward in 2003 and identified McGhee as the assailant. Ricalde was the sole eyewitness to the attack to come forward.

McGhee fled to England in December 2001, where police tracked him down in 2003. Britain sent him back to the U.S. in June 2006 after determining that he lied on a visa application. New York City police met his flight from England and arrested him.

McGhee’s 2007 trial ended in a mistrial.

Edgar’s mother spoke during the sentencing:

“There is a deep wound in our hearts that will never heal,” said Leonor Garzon, Edgar’s mother, at the October 17 sentencing. “As you see Mr. McGhee, you have taken us from living a good life… Today, our companions are sadness and loneliness.”

Leonor spoke through a translator with her husband, Armando, standing by her side. Calling the 2001 attack a “brutal and cruel injustice,” Leonor said McGhee, 40, attacked her son “from behind without giving him the opportunity or space to defend himself.”

Edgar Garzón was born in Bogotá, and moved to New York at 16 and became a U.S. citizen. He made his living designing sets for local theater groups.

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