Diego Garza, 44, has been in custody at the Burnett County jail for almost a year. He will finally have his day in court next week as his case, which includes seven charges, heads to a jury trial in front of Washburn County Judge Eugene Harrington.
Garza of St. Paul, was in court with his lawyers last week for a motion hearing to suppress evidence. He was represented by Thomas Mulligan Jr. who was there for a motion hearing to suppress evidence including the consent that was given to search the vehicle Garza was traveling in that day.
He has been charged with possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine, a class C felony, two counts of battery to law enforcement officer, a class H felony, disarming a peace officer, a class H felony, resisting an officer, a class A misdemeanor, possession of THC and possession of drug paraphernalia, both misdemeanors.
According to the criminal complaint, on Jan. 16 Garza was in the Probation and Parole office when he was informed he was under arrest. He tried to leave the office and ended up on the ground with a sheriff’s deputy.
During the altercation, multiple tasers were deployed. Garza was tased in the abdomen and the fight made its way out of the office outside. At some point, Garza gained control of the taser and began using it against the officers.
Garza eventually got away from a deputy and the office’s chief deputy and ran off toward the woods near the office.
In the courtroom last week they were focused on what happened next – the search of the vehicle.
Burnett County Detective Julie Mead took the stand to recall the events of Jan. 16 in regards to the consent that was given to search the vehicle. She was questioned by Assistant Attorney General Amber Hahn, who is representing the state of Wisconsin in this case.
Mead said she had asked Angela Cerritos, who was with Garza when they went to the Probation and Parole office, three times to consent to search the vehicle and on the third time Cerritos said yes.
She said on the first day she found a reddish-brown purse that contained gem bags with crystallized residue in them.
Mead also found a black jacket with an ID card inside that had the picture of a Hispanic man with the name Diego Garza on it. In court last week she could not verify it was Garza in the photo, but it did have his name.
She continued to find baggies with small amounts of meth. Then two pill containers were found with over 20 grams of meth.
A search of the rear cargo area uncovered .22 caliber bullets locked in a sentry safe. Also in the safe, they found an ibuprofen bottle with 172.7 grams that field-tested positive as meth.
In court, Mead told the same story and then it was the Mulligan’s turn to call a witness.
He called Cerritos to the stand to testify, but that never happened. Hahn advised Harrington that Cerritos has two misdemeanor cases open and could possibly incriminate herself in those cases by testifying in court that day.