Waco man sentenced after pleading guilty in deadly parking lot brawl

Rudy Benavidez Garcia, 29, pleaded guilty Thursday to a reduced charge of manslaughter in the...
Rudy Benavidez Garcia, 29, pleaded guilty Thursday to a reduced charge of manslaughter in the July 7, 2019, beating and kicking death of Steven Edward Porter, 38.(KWTX)
Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 6:02 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A Waco man whose hotel parking lot brawl with another man turned deadly three years ago was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday.

Rudy Benavidez Garcia, 29, pleaded guilty Thursday to a reduced charge of manslaughter in the July 7, 2019, beating and kicking death of Steven Edward Porter, 38.

Garcia was indicted on a murder charge in February 2021, but prosecutors filed a superseding charge last week that reduced the first-degree felony to a second-degree felony manslaughter charge.

The reduction changed Garcia’s alleged intent from committing an act clearly dangerous to human life that caused death by kicking and/or punching Porter to recklessly causing his death in a fight at the New Road Inn, 4000 N. Interstate 35.

Garcia pleaded guilty to beating Porter and leaving him unconscious outside the motel. Porter never regained consciousness and died eleven days later at a Waco hospital. Porter died from blunt-force injuries and suffered multiple lacerations to his body, according to an autopsy report.

Surveillance video from the hotel showed the two men fighting in the parking lot while several people tried to separate them. Porter was knocked to the ground during the fight. According to police reports, he tried to stand up and was on his hands and knees when Garcia “took a running start and kicked Porter in the face.”

Prosecutor Kristi DeCluitt said she believes the reduction from murder to manslaughter was warranted.

“No amount of years could ever bring back their beloved family member,” DeCluitt said. “The state looked at the circumstances of the crime and believe that this was the proper resolution for this case.”

Garcia’s attorney, Jonathan Sibley, said Garcia is “remorseful” about causing Porter’s death.

“Mr. Garcia’s intention was to defend himself and his family, but the fight escalated and the result was tragic,” Sibley said. “We feel the reduction of this charge to manslaughter reflects that the ultimate result of this altercation was not something that Mr. Garcia intended or sought out.”

John Porter, Porter’s father, told Garcia in a victim-impact statement following Garcia’s sentencing that he was not pleased with the outcome of the case.

“I know we all have problems in life,” John Porter said. “You are getting sentenced for what you have done. I don’t agree with it, but I am not the judge on that. You are lucky. One day you are going to be able to get out and see your children, see your family, your grandchildren. That was taken away from my son. I am not your judge and jury. That will happen when you die. But you are also lucky you are getting sentenced to what you are getting. How would you feel if your child was killed? You need to understand, I am not happy.”

Garcia, who remains jailed, participated in the hearing through a teleconference. He could be seen trying to apologize to Porter’s father but the jail microphone was muted.

Garcia will be given credit for the 608 days he has been in the McLennan County Jail. He must earn credit for serving a quarter of his prison term before he can be considered for parole.

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