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Gargiulo convicted of murder of Fairfax cab driver; gets 15-year sentence

Update, 4:50 p.m.:

The jury sentenced Gargiulo to 15 years in prison late Friday. He got 12 years on the murder charge and three years for using the gun.

Earlier Post:
A Fairfax County jury Friday convicted Evan Gargiulo of second-degree murder in the 2008 slaying of cab driver Mazhar Nazir, rejecting his claims of self-defense and insanity at the time of the shooting.

The verdict came in at noon, after the jury had spent six hours deliberating. Gargiulo showed no emotion as the verdict was read.

Fairfax Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Ian M. Rodway said that he planned to call Francis Roman, the witness (see below) who was unavailable on Thursday to testify that Gargiulo had called the shooting his "first civilian kill." He also plans to call Nazir's widow, who has sat silently watching the trial along with dozens of Nazir's friends.

Most of Nazir's friends were pleased with the verdict, though some wanted a finding of first-degree murder, which carries a penalty of 20 years to life. Second-degree murder carries a term of five to 40 years. The jury will hear evidence and then set a penalty, which White can later impose or reduce.

"I'm happy with this, " said Nasrullah Khan, who emigrated to the United States and first stayed with Nazir in 1986. "It could have been worse."

Altaf H. Anjum, another longtime friend, said, "We are proud of the Virginia commonwealth attorney and his hard struggle in the case. Nazir's family needed justice. The jury, the judge, Detective [John] Wallace, the prosecutor, they all did a very good job."

- - -

Most of the facts of the case were not in dispute. What is: whether the Gargiulo, a recent Penn State graduate and second lieutenant in the U.S. Army National Guard was acting in self-defense after allegedly informing Nazir he didn't have the $130 he agreed to pay for a long cab ride around Northern Virginia.

But in trying to determine Gargiulo's intent and actions, the jury didn't hear one alleged piece of possibly incendiary evidence: a comment to his old college roommate shortly after the shooting that he had just achieved his "first civilian kill," Rodway said in court on Wednesday.

Gargiulo said in his videotaped statement to police that he'd been very upset after shooting Nazir, a 49-year-old married father of one. He said Nazir had turned around from the driver's seat to grab him, so he pushed his arm away, then pulled out his 9mm pistol and shot him. He acknowledged not calling 911, driving home and calling his father and his Penn State roommate, Francis Roman, while using Nazir's phone.

Gargiulo said he called Roman to commiserate and calm down. Roman reportedly told police that Gargiulo commented that he had made "his first civilian kill," Rodway said, and prosecutors wanted to call Roman as a rebuttal witness.

Roman now lives in West Virginia, wasn't thrilled about being a witness against his friend and had to be subpoenaed as an out-of-state witness. Prosecutors filed the required paperwork last month, but in a bureaucratic mixup in either Virginia or West Virginia, the paperwork was lost and Roman wasn't subpoenaed.

A rush process was started again during the trial this week, and copies of the original documents were faxed to West Virginia, Rodway said.

But in a Wednesday hearing, a West Virginia judge told Roman he didn't have to abide by faxed documents if he didn't want to. He didn't want to, Rodway said. And so, although Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Bruce D. White had given Rodway an extra day to get Roman to Fairfax, it wasn't enough.

On Thursday, Rodway did call a co-worker of Gargiulo's at Lockheed Martin in Herndon. Christopher Pepper said Gargiulo seemed fine on the Monday after the early Sunday shooting, and spoke only of having his wallet, cell phone and keys stolen while he was at a D.C. club Saturday night. He said Gargiulo left work in the early afternoon, telling Pepper he had thrown up.

By then, police were tracking Nazir's cell phone and the GPS in his cab, which had Gargiulo's address in it. (Gargiulo did reach in and take his receipt from the meter after shooting Nazir, evidence showed. "What was that for, tax purposes?" Rodway cracked in his closing argument.)

Rodway asked the jury to convict Gargiulo of first-degree murder, saying that Virginia law defines premeditation as any intent formed right up to the moment of the shooting. Defense lawyer Barry Helfand, using a PowerPoint slide show presentation for his closing, made the case for not guilty by self-defense, or not guilty by reason of insanity, saying Gargiulo had legitimate fear of Nazir and had no malice toward the driver.

The jury's other options are second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter.
When the jury returns with its verdict, the courtroom will be packed. Dozens of Nazir's loyal friends, many of them fellow cab drivers, have attended every minute of every hearing in the case.

And Gargiulo's extended family -- he is from Hillsborough, N.J., near Princeton -- was also packing the benches Thursday.

(This post was updated from the original to reflect the conviction.)

-- Tom Jackman

By Tom Jackman  |  March 12, 2010; 4:50 PM ET
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Interesting the defense tried to make a case for self defense OR insanity ... you'd think they'd have a more compelling argument if they picked one, not both. Sounds like grasping at straws to me. I hope they put this killer away for life, where he can continue his "sheltered" life.

Posted by: Mike40 | March 12, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

This is insane. This freaking lunatic soldier goes into his house when he was dropped off by the cabbie and gets a gun instead of his wallet. If that's not intent to do something, I don't know what is. This guy deserves life in prison for murdering a hard-working man.

Posted by: ConcernedInvestor | March 12, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Put him away for the maximum, 40years. Anything less is an insult to the victim and his family. Should have been murder I and death penalty.

Posted by: 123cartoon | March 12, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

People shooting other people like they're swatting a fly. No big deal. "I murdered him over $130. So what. Who cares." They don't think what will happen if they get caught & go to prison for 20 years or so for $130. Like people robbing Domino's pizza drivers. "We needed that $20 badly!"

Posted by: uncivil | March 12, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

On the ride home, Gargiulo decided to kill the cabbie. When he got home, instead of paying the driver, he got his gun. The plan was to run the meter higher by making the cabbie drive him back to Tyson's. Then he would refuse to pay not just a big fare, but a really big fare.

Gargiulo expected the cabbie would become violent and that that would justify the shooting. But Gargiulo was too eager to kill and failed to even wait for the cabbie to unfasten his seat belt.

Posted by: blasmaic | March 12, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

RACK Fairfax County for putting this piece of sh*t away. Just another spoiled, well-educated dumbf*ck who thought he could do whatever he wanted.

How the hell do you get your keys, cell phone and wallet all stolen at the same time at a club? Keep 'em in your pockets and that sh*t doesn't happen. People are so incredibly stupid.

Posted by: MACCHAMPS04 | March 12, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

What a waste of the prime of your life. Spending it in prison coz of one extremely thoughtless, tragic act. If he hadn't had a gun, would he have stabbed the cabbie, beaten him to death or strangled him?

I hope this idiot isn't too pretty. They will be selling "alone time" with him for cigarettes, drugs, etc. He'll be wearing lipstick & tight shorts. You can get used to anything if you have to. Even homosexuality. He might even get stabbed if he resists the attention or beaten up very badly.

You ain't gonna be living with the creme de la creme of society, sonny. Have fun. You could always kill yourself. That might be best. Save the state the time & money they will spend on your sorry self.

Posted by: uncivil | March 12, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

He dodged the needle, but he won't even have to drop the soap to get some very special attention in prison. Good riddance.

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | March 12, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

The defense did not raise the possibility that someone could have re-fastened the cabbie's seat belt. The body was there for hours before the police were called.

Then the defense did not include the possibility of post-traumatic stress disorder from the defendant's recent Iraq tour. This is a very credible explanation for why a recent Iraq veteran who is robbed then snaps and kills a Muslim cab driver.

Posted by: blasmaic | March 12, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

To clarify here:
Evan Gargiulo was not a recent Iraq veteran. Evan Gargiulo, to my knowledge, has never been to Iraq and was never on active duty. Evan Gargiulo did not and could not have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and it would not be a credible explanation in this case. There have been some posts here which do not reconcile with the facts in the trial, which I personally watched and reported on.

Tom Jackman

Posted by: TomJackman1 | March 12, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

15 years for killing an innocent man....... that does not say much for the value of a life in Fairfax County.

Posted by: bjohnnyf | March 13, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

All of these comments as you can see are made by idiots without an education who know nothing about the case and only have hatred in the hearts. Even the writer failed his duty to report without bias. He's a puppet following the lies and failing to investigate the facts. Nazir was a CRIMINAL, look it up! Gargiulo is a US citizen and soldier who defended himself. It's our 2nd Amendment Right to bear arms and confirmed by VA law. Stop letting criminals slip through your broken system (Fairfax botched prosecuting his DUI and falsified Taxi application, & other multiple violations of the law) and this won't happen to law-abiding Americans. Our open border tolerance is killing America! When will we learn and stop letting criminals into our country?!?

Posted by: USA4EVER1 | March 16, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

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