Today’s news:

DA seeks life sentence in Bayside jeweler slay

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said he would seek a prison term of life without parole for an Elmhurst man accused of the August 2000 killing of a longtime Bayside jeweler at his Horace Harding Expressway shop.

Anthony Garcia, 25, of 53-01 Junction Blvd. was arrested Sept. 8 in Sunnyside and charged with the murder of Fausto Rodriguez, 54, longtime owner of Jilliann’s Jewelry in Bayside. Garcia faces three counts of murder and criminal possession of a weapon in the Rodriguez case.

The Elmhurst man is also accused of a string of robberies throughout Queens in August 2000 and a burglary in Flushing in the same month and could face a separate sentence of up to 115 years in prison if convicted for those crimes.

Brown said in a statement he decided against seeking the death penalty in the Garcia case but declined to elaborate on why.

“While I understand that some citizens might want a detailed explanation of the basis of our decision, the interests of a vigorous and fair prosecution in this and other cases precludes my commenting further,” he said.

Under state law Brown has 120 days from the time a person is arraigned in court to decide whether to seek the death penalty. Brown, who is philosophically opposed to the death penalty, consulted a panel of senior prosecutors in his office before making his decision, he said in a statement.

Garcia, who was indicted for Rodriguez’s murder in December, allegedly went into Jilliann’s Jewelry in Bayside to rob the store where Rodriguez worked with his wife and brother-in-law, according to police.

After Garcia was buzzed through the store’s double-door security system as a customer, he allegedly announced a robbery and herded Rodriguez into a back room in the store, police said.

The district attorney charged Garcia with shooting and killing Rodriguez as his wife looked on.

As a teenager, the 5-foot-10-inch, 210-pound Garcia was convicted of robbery and served six years in jail, authorities said. He was released from a state prison in December 1998 and was on parole until 2001, authorities said.

The other charges Garcia faces include four armed robberies of a plumbing store at 40-18 Ditmars Blvd. on Aug. 7; a grocery store at 41-02 Astoria Blvd. on Aug. 17; a discount store at 37-07 30th Ave. on Aug. 21; and a Dairyland at 55-07 69th St. on Aug. 27, the DA’s office said.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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