Jury still out in Zaid murder trial

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: A confident-looking Salih Abdul-Haqq Zaid leaves the Graham County Courthouse on Friday night after closing arguments were heard. The jury spent all day deliberating Monday but failed to reach a verdict.

By Jon Johnson


SAFFORD – After two weeks of testimony it will take longer than one day of jury deliberations to come to a decision in the murder trial of Salih Abdul-Haqq Zaid, 40.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Salih Abdul-Haqq Zaid is well-dressed as he leaves the courtroom. Zaid wore a suit every day of the trial.

The nine-woman, three-man jury deliberated all day Monday and were dismissed shortly before 5 p.m. after not coming up with a verdict.

Zaid is accused of first-degree murder in the April 26, 2017,  shooting death of of Jared Michael Garcia, 35, in the parking lot of the Bull Pen bar. Zaid shot Garcia at near point-blank range with an AK-47 assault rifle but claims he did so in self-defense after being accosted by Garcia and his friends at the bar. The incident in the parking lot occurred after Zaid had already left the bar and returned. The prosecution presented evidence that Zaid went to his house to retrieve the firearm, while the defense stated Zaid already had the gun in the truck and merely returned to the bar to apologize to the bartender.

The jury went over several items of evidence in its first day of deliberations, including clothes Zaid was wearing the night of the incident and surveillance videos as well as a police interrogation video, in which Zaid confessed to shooting Garcia.

The jury will continue deliberations Tuesday morning. If they cannot come to a unanimous decision on the first-degree murder charge, they can also find Zaid guilty of second-degree murder, manslaughter, or negligent homicide. Zaid is also charged with two counts of aggravated assault, endangerment, disorderly conduct with a weapon, and unlawful discharge of a weapon within city limits.