Today in Schenectady County Court, the last two defendants charged in connection with the killing of Jennifer Ostrander on August 2, 2020 on 6th Avenue in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood of Schenectady, entered guilty pleas in the case.
- Tito Garcia (30, dob 10/21/1992) pled guilty to one count of Murder in the Second Degree under the theory of Depraved Indifference Murder. He admitted that he fired the fatal shot that struck Ms. Ostrander in her head. She was not the intended target of the shooting but was sitting in a chair on her own porch where several young men who were targeted by the shooters were congregating. Garcia agreed to accept a sentence of 20 years to life when he is to be sentenced on February 15, 2023 at 9:30 a.m.
- Daquan Smith (31, dob 9/17/1991) pled guilty to one count of Manslaughter in the First Degree in causing the death of Ms. Ostrander. He was not a shooter but acted in concert with Mr. Garcia as a planner of the event. Smith is also to be sentenced on February 15, 2023 at 9:30 a.m.
In addition to these two defendants, four other defendants had previously entered guilty pleas in this case as follows:
- John White (37, dob 7/22/1985) a driver of the car containing the shooters, pled guilty to one count of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree and is expected to receive 12 years in prison when he is sentenced.
- Tyricke Walker (27, dob 12/11/1995), who furnished a gun to one of the shooters, pled guilty to one count of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree and will receive a sentence between a range of 7 to 12 years.
- Marchello Rizzo (25, dob 9/8/1997), who furnished a gun to one of the shooters, pled guilty to one count of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, agreed to a sentence with a cap of 12 years in prison, and
- Joel Johnson (24, dob 8/5/1998), who was a shooter, pled guilty to one count of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree and one count of Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree and agreed to a cap of 12 years on the weapon charge and 2 1/3 to 7 years on the charge of Reckless Endangerment, to be served concurrently.
From August 2, 2020 when Jennifer Ostrander was murdered, the Schenectady Police Department with Lead Detective Kevin Maloney, assisted by many other agencies including the Middletown Police Department that stopped a vehicle which had been identified as participating in the crime, through video analysis by District Attorney Investigators Ed Ritz and Rick Voris, methodically pieced together the roles of almost all of the participants in this crime. A caravan of four cars with 13 people affiliated with the Bloods gang were in search of Crip gang members to shoot. Three shooters got out of the vehicles and shot at a group of men on Ostrander’s porch whom they believed to be Crips. None of them were injured but Jennifer Ostrander was killed by the first shot which struck her in the head and brain, causing her death.
D. A. Robert Carney stated: “I thank my trial team of ADA’s Christina Tremante and Nick McDonald, along with our investigators and partners in law enforcement, who were determined to hold to account as many of the participants in this gang murder as we could identify and prove guilty. 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. The end result was the death of an unintended innocent victim who was a young mother. Another tragedy in this case is that a young 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.”