Andres Garcia

Andres Garcia

Former Nogales High School and Arizona State University football player Andres Garcia was sentenced Monday in Phoenix to 2.5 years in prison for sexual assault and burglary convictions, with credit for 280 days already served.

Judge Teresa Sanders also sentenced Garcia, 23, to a lifetime of probation and sex offender registration during a hearing Monday morning at Maricopa County Superior Court.

Garcia pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted sexual assault and one count of third-degree burglary at a Dec. 19 court hearing. The charges stem from Garcia’s arrest by Tempe police in June on two counts of sexual assault and one count of domestic violence assault against a 21-year-old woman.

At Monday’s hearing, the victim told the judge the attack has caused her life to change from one in which she feels safe and happy, to “fear, distress and darkness.”

In addition to the physical injuries to her genitals and head, which Garcia allegedly slammed into a wall, the victim said the attack caused her to isolate herself from friends and family and to contemplate suicide.

In reference to the relationship she had with Garcia prior to the attack, she asked rhetorically: “How could I be so naïve not to see the type of person he was?

“I cannot condone what Andres did and I believe he should receive the maximum sentence,” she said.

The woman was joined by a dozen friends and family members in the gallery, while nearly two dozen people sat in support of Garcia.

After Garcia’s parents, brother, and an official from the Arizona State University athletic department spoke on behalf of Garcia’s character, prosecutor Ryan Powell attempted to cast doubt on the comments made in Garcia’s defense, saying: “This was not an ‘unfortunate incident’ or an ‘error in judgment.’ This was rape.”

Powell outlined the events of the night of the attack, drawn from interviews with people who attended a house party where it happened.

According to the prosecution, Garcia knocked the victim unconscious after the group arrived at the house, which led to some of the friends taking her to the hospital. However, the friends decided to return to the house after the woman began to regain consciousness.

They put her to bed fully clothed and stepped outside to smoke a cigarette, Powell said. When they came back inside, they found the door to the bedroom locked. On the other side of the door, they heard “choking or gagging,” Powell said.

They knocked on the door and Garcia opened it. They found the victim in such a state that she was “in no way able to resist,” he said.

“We are here today because the defendant violated (the victim) in every way,” he said.

Powell asked for the maximum sentence of 3.75 years in prison and lifetime probation.

Garcia then took the podium to address the judge and ask for mercy.

“I’m not a criminal, Your Honor,” he said. Instead, he “made a mistake” and asks forgiveness every day.

“I acknowledge the fact that I betrayed a friend,” he said, adding he has taken responsibility for his actions both legally and morally. “It was never my intention to hurt anybody.”

Garcia told the judge that he had been rehabilitated during the 280 days he has spent in jail, citing a letter from a fellow inmate who said Garcia helped him turn time in jail into “something positive.”

Garcia apologized to his victim, saying: “I want her to know that I’m extremely sorry.”

Garcia was kicked off the ASU football team following his arrest. He had walked on to the team as a defensive back after playing two seasons at Pima Community College.

Garcia graduated from Nogales High School in 2009.

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