N4T Investigators: Baby battle - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Baby battle

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Bisbee - Army Sgt. Steven Garcia is in Seoul, South Korea, serving our country. He's also involved in a very different battle at home. It involves his wife, and a baby. 

Speaking to the News 4 Tucson Investigators via Skype in his first interview about the case, Sgt. Garcia said, "I was under the assumption the entire time that she was pregnant that I was the father. When I found out I wasn't, I was pretty upset, I was kind of in denial. I couldn't believe what was going on."

The baby boy was born on Feb. 2 at Canyon Vista Medical Center in Sierra Vista. Cochise County investigators say that a few weeks earlier, Marina Garcia told Steven Garcia's sister that the baby was a girl, and had died during childbirth. 

Sergeant Garcia told us, "When my sister called me about that, it was pretty emotional. We cried quite a bit together over the phone. It was devastating."

But it wasn't the truth.

On Feb. 5, an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper stopped a car for speeding on I-10 near Willcox. Inside the vehicle were a couple in their 40's, identified as Alex and Leslie Hernandez of Kenedy, Texas. Also inside in car: a newborn baby boy. 

The alert trooper (who declined an interview for this story) told investigators the couple seemed nervous and, eventually, admitted they were not the parents. Department of Public Safety reports state that the couple said they,  "conspired with the birth mother, who was identified verbally as Marina Garcia, to forge the signature as the father to take possession of the infant child."  

Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre says Marina Garcia could have simply told hospital staff that she didn't want the baby, or dropped the infant off at a safe haven, such as a firehouse, or given him up for adoption. Instead, investigators say she lied to her husband's family and gave the newborn to the Hernandez', who were old friends of hers from when they lived in California.

McIntyre said of Marina Garcia, "The only thing on her mind was getting rid of this child. This 'problem' in her life. What scares me is that if it hadn't been the Hernandez', if the couple hadn't been willing to step forward, then what person off the Internet might have been next?"

The County Attorney says there is no evidence that any money changed hands, that Ms. Garcia just gave the baby to Alex and Leslie Hernandez after forging the birth certificate. Ms. Garcia has also said no money was involved. 

The News 4 Tucson Investigators found Marina Garcia at an apartment in Sierra Vista. She repeatedly said she would not answer any questions, but did say that Steven Garcia is not the biological father. When we asked who is, she answered, "It's unknown."

Sergeant Garcia, as you might expect, has filed for divorce. DNA tests show that he is not the biological father. However, he wants custody of the baby and has gone into debt to travel to the U.S. to visit the infant. Because, you see, Steven Garcia is adopted.

Sgt. Garcia said, "My adopted father completely changed my life. Without him I would not be where I am today. And for the opportunity to do that for someone else, I believe it's important. It could change the child's life and give him a better future and I believe that's the right thing to do." 

One thing Marina Garcia did say to us is that Steven Garcia "is not gonna get custody of the baby."

Marina Garcia pleaded guilty to an attempted scheme to defraud by forging the birth certificate, naming Alex Hernandez as the father. That's a felony; her sentencing is scheduled for next month. It had been scheduled for today, but was pushed back because the County Attorney and the probation report recommends that Ms. Garcia be sentenced to prison. Her attorney is contesting that and so a mitigation hearing will be held before her sentencing.

Alex and Leslie Hernandez, who investigators say cooperated with them and had no prior felonies, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit forgery. Each received four years of supervised probation. 

We asked Sgt. Garcia, who at 24 is seven years younger than his soon to be ex-wife, "If you could talk to Marina now, what would you say?"  He said, "I would just ask her, 'Why?'  Why she lied about everything. I want to know what was going through her head, to be honest with you."

The baby is in foster care, and a cousin of Sgt. Garcia's has started a GoFundMe page to offset his legal and travel expenses. Sergeant Garcia wants custody of a baby that's not his, but one he wants to someday call him, "Dad."

If you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444. 

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