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Judge orders $1 million bail in Bautista murder case

YAKIMA - This past Monday a judge in Yakima County Superior Court set bail for Ismael Garcia, 18, of Prosser at $1 million for his alleged role in the murder of Francisco Bautista at Sunnyside's South Hill Park.

The motive for the murder is believed to be retribution for testimony given by Bautista related to a 2007 burglary.

That's according to an affidavit submitted to the Yakima County Prosecutor's Office by the Sunnyside Police Department.

Police said a small caliber firearm was used to kill Bautista.

In the affidavit an account of events occurring on March 21 is provided.

According to the affidavit, Bautista's mother dropped him off at the South Hill Apartments so he could visit a friend.

Just after 8 p.m. Bautista called his mother, Alma Hernandez, asking her to provide him a ride home from the area of South Hill Road and Washington Court.

Police said Bautista began walking through South Hill Park to meet his mother.

About seven minutes later, Bautista apparently called his mother again, telling her he had been shot at the park.

His mother was just a short distance away and arrived soon after the call. She found her son lying on the grass at the edge of the parking lot and told police she could see Bautista had been shot multiple times.

Police were called and raced to the scene. The officers initially arriving on the scene described Bautista's condition as "bad and worsening quickly," according to the affidavit.

Bautista was transported to Sunnyside Community Hospital via ambulance, but his wounds were fatal.

Before he was transported, police said Bautista identified his assailants as "Busters," which police say is slang for Norteno gang members.

An anonymous caller phoned police shortly after the shooting, identifying "Joker" and "Cartoon" as being responsible for the shooting.

Sunnyside police, being familiar with gang monikers, believed the caller meant "Jokester," the name for Garcia, whom police say is a self-identified member of the Norteno street gang.

Police said Hernandez told them Bautista told her the son of a woman with a light complexion and blond hair with whom Bautista's family was familiar shot him.

Further identifiers led Sunnyside police to suspect the individual to whom Bautista referred was Garcia.

Police continued to ask Hernandez questions, and she identified the mother of Garcia and later identified Garcia in photo line-ups.

Sunnyside police checked their records for connections between Garcia and Bautista, noting Bautista was a witness in a theft case dating back to 2007.

A concession stand at South Hill Park had been broken into, and Garcia confessed to the crime.

That year, Bautista also told police Garcia had been threatening him and police warned Garcia to stay away from the victim.

Garcia, in relation to Bautista's murder, turned himself in after his photograph had been released to the media.

Police said he provided an alibi for the time of the shooting, but it has not panned out, according to the affidavit.

Yakima County Prosecutors have indicated Garcia now faces charges of second degree murder.

A second individual believed to be involved in the shooting, 17-year-old Raymundo Casares, remains at large.

Police also have in custody an 18-year-old male and 14-year-old female on requested charges of accomplice to murder.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Casares is urged to call the Sunnyside Police Department at 836-6200.

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