This story was updated at 10:15 a.m. Aug. 29.
The Fairfax County jury that convicted Falls Church resident Julio Blanco Garcia of the premeditated murder of 19-year-old Vanessa Pham in 2010 later recommended a 49-year prison sentence; 30 years plus an additional 19 years to represent her brief life, the jury said.
During the Aug. 22 sentencing phase which came after about three hours of deliberations resulting in a first-degree murder conviction, the jury could have voted not guilty, or recommended a prison sentence ranging anywhere from 20 years up to life in prison. At one point, the jury asked the court for information about what other juries in Virginia murder trials have recommended, but were advised to come up with their own recommendation.
Blanco Garcia, 27, is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 15. Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Jane Marum Roush has the ability that day to sentence Blanco Garcia to less than the jury’s recommendation, but not to more.
An appeal in the case is also possible, but defense attorneys declined to comment on an appeal.
Whatever Blanco Garcia’s ultimate sentence winds up being, federal authorities said that after it is complete, they plan to take custody of Blanco Garcia, a Guatamalan national who they say overstayed his work visa.
“A detainer has been placed on him due to his illegal status,” said Brandon A. Montgomery of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Blanco Garcia legally entered the U.S. in 2002 on a work visa, but overstayed the time he was allowed to remain in the U.S, Montgomery said.
Blanco Garcia had three previous misdemeanor arrests in Fairfax County from 2004 to 2011, but was never fingerprinted and his identity was not checked through the ICE database after those arrests, Montgomery said.
Fairfax County participates in the Secure Communities program, administered by ICE, which uses existing information to identify noncitizens for possible deportation after they have been arrested and booked into the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, but the Sherrif’s Office does not generally fingerprint offenders of common misdemeanors such as traffic violations, trespassing or public intoxication, according to the Sheriff’s Office representative Steve Elbert.
“Through the Secure Communities program, if a violator is fingerprinted, we will run that offender’s prints though the ICE database,” Montgomery said. “But we have no ability to enforce who is and who is not fingerprinted.”