SCHENECTADY – A city man admitted Tuesday to the August 2020 shooting death of Jennifer Ostrander in Schenectady, Schenectady County District Attorney’s officials said.
Tito Garcia, 30, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder in Ostrander’s death, officials said.
He admitted he fired the fatal shot that struck Ostrander in the head Aug. 2, 2020, on Sixth Avenue. She was not Garcia’s intended target, but was sitting in a chair on her own porch as several people who were targeted congregated, officials said.
As part of his plea, Garcia accepted a term of 20 years to life in prison. He is to be sentenced in February.
Ostrander, who was 31, was remembered in the days after the shooting as a big-hearted mother who helped others in the community.
In all, six people have now pleaded guilty to various charges in the larger case, prosecutors said.
Garcia’s plea Tuesday came on the same day as that of Daquan Smith, 31. Smith pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree manslaughter. Smith was not a shooter, but acted with Garcia in planning the incident, prosecutors said. Smith is also to be sentenced in February.
The others who pleaded guilty in the case, the charges they pleaded to and their sentences:
- John White, 37, the driver of the car containing the shooters, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, expected to get 12 years.
- Tyricke Walker, 27, furnished a gun to one of the shooters, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, to get a range of between 7 to 12 years.
- Marchello Rizzo, 25, furnished a gun to one of the shooters, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, to get up to 12 years.
- Joel Johnson, 24, was a shooter, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and first-degree reckless endangerment, to get up to 12 years.
Prosecutors credited the work of lead Detective Kevin Maloney, assisted by other agencies, including the Middletown Police Department, and video analysis by District Attorney Investigators Ed Ritz and Rick Voris.
Through their work, they determined that a caravan of four cars, with 13 people inside affiliated with the Bloods gang were searching Crips to shoot. The shooting broke out as three men got out and shot at a group on Ostrander’s porch whom they believed to be Crips, prosecutors said.
None of that group were hurt, but Ostrander was struck and killed by the first shot, prosecutors said.
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney, in a statement, thanked his prosecutors Christina Tremante and Nick McDonald, along with investigators and their law enforcement partners.
“We did not want to stop with the actual killer, Tito Garcia, but sought to unravel this conspiracy through cooperation from those least responsible to build cases against those who planned this and recruited others to participate,” Carney said in his statement. “The end result was the death of an unintended innocent victim who was a young mother.”
Carney also called another tragedy in the case a 17-year-old “unwittingly recruited to participate in this crime died of natural causes while in custody in a juvenile detention facility awaiting trial.”
“Gang prosecutions are inherently difficult and our success in this one only came about because of the determination and hard work of a talented team of professionals.”