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DNA clears Aurora man of murder
Analysis reveals knife wasn't used in killing

By Rita Hoover
Special to the Tribune
June 24, 2005
After living under a cloud of suspicion for nearly five months, an Aurora man has been cleared of murder charges by DNA tests that showed blood on a knife believed to be the murder weapon was, in fact, his own, his family said Thursday.

George Albert Garcia, 28, of the 400 block of West Park Avenue, "woke up to a nightmare," the morning of Feb. 26, said his brother Tony Garcia, 31, one of nine siblings.

The incident began around 8 a.m., Tony Garcia said, when George's niece went to his bedroom for help when she saw her uncle, Abel Salgado, 22, lying in the back yard of the family's home. Salgado lived there with Garcia's sister, the defendant and other family members. After being awakened, George Garcia reportedly ran out to investigate and found his brother-in-law's lifeless body.

"At first he couldn't tell that Abel had been stabbed," said Tony Garcia on Thursday. The family immediately called for help, Tony said, and George was still holding Salgado's body when police arrived and discovered Salgado had been fatally stabbed.

With a stabbing victim just outside the residence, police quickly focused on George Garcia when a knife with what appeared to be blood on it was found in his bedroom.

"We believed there was probable cause when we charged him," said Kane County Assistant State's Atty. Greg Sams. Salgado's stab wounds appeared to have been inflicted by a serrated knife, similar to the one recovered under some blankets and clothing in Garcia's bedroom, Sams said. Initial tests of the knife proved positive for blood.

But the DNA recovered from the knife in Garcia's bedroom turned out to be his own, according to lab results received last week. Garcia explained that he suffers from "really bad dry skin" and often used the small steak knife to relieve the itching.

Sams said no skin condition was evident in a police video of Garcia, but Garcia's attorney, Kathleen Colton, disagreed. "His arms were full of scratches," said Colton, who said Garcia showed her the marks at their first meeting.

George Garcia said he is "relieved" that the charges were dropped, but feels police are not convinced he did not murder Salgado.

"The arrest was made on probable cause, and when the tests from the crime lab came back that did not support the evidence, both ourselves and the state's attorney did the right thing and dropped the murder charges--for now," said Aurora Police Department spokesman Dan Ferrelli.

He would not comment on the investigation because it is ongoing, he said.