Aleida Silva-Garcia stood in front of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office on Dec. 16 and spoke about murder.
“Alejandro Rojas-Garcia was murdered on Jan. 24, 2015 by a complete stranger with a history of gun-related arrests and convictions,” she said.
“Alex is my brother.”
Speaking at the announced candidacy of Carlos Vega for DA in the upcoming Democratic primary, Aleida Silva Garcia criticized the current DA, Larry Krasner, and praised former homicide prosecutor, Carlos Vega.
“I felt he understood our pain and was serious and hardworking. He was always available to speak with us and answer our questions. For three years, we worked together until the current district attorney changed everything without notice,” she said.
“Then, Krasner assigned a less experienced prosecutor with no knowledge of our case. We were retraumatized.”
Vega was removed from the case as he was fired – along with 30 other seasoned prosecutors – on Krasner’s first day in office.
“Knowing the cost of incarceration but not the cost of a victim’s life is just wrong.”– Aleida Silva-Garcia
Garcia said that under Krasner there have been too many low-end plea deals, dismissed charges and policies that benefit the offender rather than the victim. She also spoke of Krasner’s prosecutors raising the cost of incarceration with the judge prior to sentencing.
“Knowing the cost of incarceration but not the cost of a victim’s life is just wrong,” Garcia said.
“That is why I’m voting for Carlos Vega.”
A retired detective who worked in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office for many years spoke to me about Carlos Vega, a retired homicide prosecutor. The former detective was pleased that Vega was running against Krasner for district attorney of Philadelphia. Like many retired and serving cops, he dislikes Krasner intensely, and believes the progressive DA favors criminals over cops and crime victims. And like many cops, he hopes Vega will defeat Krasner in the upcoming Democratic primary election.
“Krasner is a disgrace to law enforcement,” he said.
“And Carlos Vega was a good homicide DA.”
Vega, 64, served in the District Attorney’s Office for 35 years, beginning in 1982. In 1987, he became the first Latino prosecutor in the Homicide Unit. He also worked a second job at night for 15 years at UPS to support his family.
I reached out to Vega and asked him why he was running for DA.
“I’m running because every day there is a mother who gets a knock on the door and is told their child has been shot or killed,” Vega said.
“Look at the DA’s statistics and look at the police statistics. The police are making arrests at a record level and getting guns off the street, but 1,254 illegal gun-possession cases were withdrawn or dismissed under Larry Krasner’s leadership.”
“Larry has basically caused dissension and completely turned his back on the police department, the Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We need these law enforcement agencies.”– Carlos Vega
He went on to note there was an 85 percent drop in prosecutions of gun crimes and stressed that illegal guns were fueling the violence. He further noted that drug dealers who were not prosecuted were fighting for territory and children are being killed in the crossfire.
“Victims are an inconvenient truth that Larry ignores,” Vega said.
“He never talks about the victims.”
Vega, whose father owns a grocery store, spoke of the vandalism, looting and destruction of businesses this past year. To compound the problem, he said, the criminals were destroying stores in the poor neighborhoods.
“I don’t know the numbers of the people he let go who were looting businesses, destroying property and destroying police equipment, but there should be consequences for that,” Vega said.
“You can protest peacefully, but that is not an excuse to break into a business and destroy it.”
I asked him to describe himself and he replied: “I am fair, reasonable, experienced, and I believe that violent crime has to be addressed. You cannot have communities locked in their homes due to violence. Priority number one is to get a DA office that is properly trained. We see prosecutors who don’t know they’re doing. You need seasoned prosecutors to tell you this is how these things are done. You also need to refocus the mission of the DA’s office to make the city safe.”
Vega said the DA represents the voice of the victims.
“When someone is arrested, they have the right to a free attorney and bail, and they have a right to a jury trial by their peers. When a victim is robbed, all they have is a DA to be their voice. It is the only right they have.”
Vega said he will also mend the DA’s relationship with the police department and other law enforcement agencies.
“Larry has basically caused dissension and completely turned his back on the police department, the Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We need these law enforcement agencies,” Vega said.
“That is manpower and intelligence that we could use to reduce the violent crime rate.”
Vega spoke of his 30 years in the DA’s Homicide Unit, which he said was the elite of the elite.
“They are the toughest cases. I had cases where witnesses were threatened and some were killed,” Vega said.
“The worst thing is to get a not guilty verdict and have to look at that mother and tell her you failed her.
“I did over 40 jury trials before I got into homicide, where I was groomed, going from simple homicides to more complicated cases. I know what works in the court system. And I have a good relationship with law enforcement. I know these people on a first-name basis and I can make a call and get things done.”
Carlos Vega said he is running for DA due to the many calls he has received from people across the city who told him the violence has to stop.
“I have a pension from the city and UPS, and if I chose to, I would not have to work another day in my life,” Vega said.
“I’m doing this because my children are in the age group of the next victim of a shooting or a murder. As a Philadelphian and as a parent, I have to do something about it.”
Paul Davis’ Crime Beat column appears here each week. He is a Philadelphia writer who has written extensively about organized crime, cybercrime, street crime, white-collar crime, crime fiction, crime prevention, espionage and terrorism.