Two Stanislaus County Jail are inmates were charged Thursday with stabbing and severely injuring another inmate. One of the suspects is a co-defendant of the victim in a 2013 stabbing death of a young man at an east Modesto Park.
Cellmates Juan Manuel Garcia, 24, and Patrick Benjamin Solis, 50, were charged with the attempted murder of Taylor Koplen.
According to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, Koplen was sitting in a shared recreation area around 9:35 p.m. Monday when the suspects approached and attacked him from behind what authorities say was a jail-house made sharp object called a shank.
He suffered deep lacerations to his shoulder, neck and head and was taken to an area hospital but has since returned to the jail, where he is being monitored in the medical infirmary, according to Sgt. Luke Schwartz.
Investigators interviewed witnesses and reviewed video surveillance footage and detention deputies provided them with “valuable information captured from telephonic audio recordings,” according to a press release.
“Even though there was a general lack of cooperation from the person who was attacked, which can be common in custodial facilities for fear of further reprisal, deputies were able to establish enough probable cause to rebook Solis and Garcia on attempted murder charges,” Schwartz said in the press release.
‘Assault by a life prisoner’
Garcia and Solis also face charges of possessing a shank in jail, assault with a deadly weapon and enhancements for acting with premeditation and personally inflicting injury. But Garcia alone is charged with “assault by a life prisoner.”
He, Koplen and another defendant were convicted in 2014 of murdering 18-year-old Tylor Crippen at Modesto’s Creekwood Park.
Crippen was with his girlfriend at the park in January 2013 when the three tried to rob them. When Crippen ran they chased him down and began assaulting him. Prosecutors say it was Koplen who stabbed Crippen to death.
Garcia and Koplen, who were 16 and 17 at the time of the crime, were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. But due to a change in the law regarding the prosecution of juveniles as adults, both were brought back to the Stanislaus Jail in order to attend further proceedings in their case.
Under the new law, a juvenile court judge had to decide whether they should have been prosecuted as adults in the first place. The judge ultimately did, transferring Koplen back to adult court in January and Garcia in September.
Following the judge’s order to transfer, Garcia asked to make a statement to Crippen’s mother Violet, who has attended nearly every hearing.
“Ms. Crippen, I want to apologize to you and your family and to Tylor’s friends, just to all your family, and I wanted to let you know I truly am sorry for everything that happened and I take full responsibility for everything that day,” Garcia said. “I just hope one day that you finally can forgive me for everything ... all the pain that I caused you guys.”
Violet Crippen said on Friday she found the apology to be insincere.
Upon hearing about the attack on Koplen earlier this week Violet Crippen said, “My first thought was karma is a bitch. Now Taylor knows how Tylor must have felt. But after I’ve had time to think about it, it’s a very sad situation all around.”
Garcia and Koplen have been in the jail awaiting re-sentencing since their transfers back to adult court.
Koplen’s attorney Martin Baker said Friday that the re-sentencing has been postponed multiple times because the judge needs time to review transcripts from the trial. Koplen and Garcia are currently scheduled to be resentenced early next year. Baker said he doesn’t anticipate the latest charges against Garcia will impact the timing.
Solis, the other inmate suspected of stabbing Koplen, was originally booked last year for allegedly carjacking a woman in Riverbank and leading authorities on a pursuit before he was captured, according to The Riverbank News.