A Santa Fe man has pleaded not guilty to charges of fatally shooting another man during a drug deal and burying his body in a field on the city’s south side.
James Garcia, 26, was arraigned Wednesday in state District Court on charges of second-degree murder and tampering with evidence.
He is accused of shooting and killing Daniel Gisler, 20. According to court documents, two people told Santa Fe Police Department detectives that Garcia confessed to killing Gisler.
The first person said Garcia met with Gisler to sell him Xanax, but when he thought Gisler was going to steal the drugs from him, he shot him three times. The second person said Garcia told him he buried Gisler’s body in a shallow grave on a family member’s property.
Gisler’s family reported him missing Nov. 21. Santa Fe police found his remains Dec. 6 in a field near Richards Avenue and Mission Bend Road.
District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer has ordered that Garcia be held without bond until trial.
Stephen Aarons, Garcia’s attorney, said he would request a modification to this decision by written motion once he had more information in the case.
“I’ll do so once we have more discovery in the case and we really know what the evidence is,” Aarons said. “We don’t even know who the two people are that say that James told them [he had killed Gisler.]”
District Judge T. Glenn Ellington scheduled Garcia’s trial for May 19. Garcia’s pretrial conference is set for March 25.
He faces up to 18 years in prison and a $17,500 fine if convicted, plus an additional year each for a firearm enhancement and for being a habitual offender because of his prior third-degree felony conviction for extortion in 2015.