Shoot to Kill: An Antique Dealer Has One Last Chance at Freedom After Gunning Down an Unarmed Homeless Trespasser

Before the fatal shooting, there was the red couch.

It was soiled, stained, and reeked of cigarette smoke. A few days after bringing it into the Central Phoenix antique store, Ruby Sias realized it needed to be moved outside.

She asked the new owner's son to help her take it to the parking lot, where someone would probably take it away as a freebie.

"That's what I feel really bad about," says Sias, a no-nonsense, auburn-haired woman in her late 60s, standing behind the counter of the store, the light of a cloudy winter day shining through a window behind her. "That's what started the whole thing."

The morning after the couch was hauled out, on January 17, 2006, she recalls greeting her new boss at the back door to the parking lot as he arrived at work.

Roger Garfield, then 54, had been the owner of the Historic District Antique Mall at Seventh Avenue and McDowell Road for exactly two days.

He pointed at the couch, clearly in a foul mood, as Sias tells it.

"This is why you don't put things like that out there," he said, according to Sias. "Now look what's happened."

A heavyset, white-bearded homeless man was sitting on the couch, staring at them. Near him was a shopping cart full of cans and other items.

Sias, who worked as assistant manager for Garfield and, along with other antique dealers, sub-leased her own retail space inside the store, says her boss told the man on the red couch to get lost. But the man, who they later learned was named Robert Cain, a 49-year-old transient, argued with Garfield.

"Who are you to tell me I have to leave?" Cain asked the store owner, says Sias. "I can rest anywhere I want to."

Garfield tells New Times a somewhat different version of events. He says he allowed Cain to sleep on the couch that day and that the incident began after he took out some garbage and awoke Cain by accident.

When Garfield dropped the Dumpster lid with a bang, he says, Cain shot him a mean look — a look Garfield says he "didn't think a human could produce." Garfield says he apologized, then told the man, "It's probably time you go back to doing whatever it is you do."

Garfield says the transient, whom some in the neighborhood called Santa, began yelling at him. Garfield says he retreated into the store and locked the back door. Cain began shaking the metal-and-glass doors as if he were trying to break in, Garfield says.

That's when the store owner made the first of three 911 calls over 19 minutes. But the police never showed up.

Sias had ducked back into the shop to help a customer; she doesn't remember hearing Cain banging on the doors.

The antique "mall" has a cavernous interior, crammed with furniture and eclectic knickknacks on tables and shelf cases; lots of light gets in through glass windows and doors at the front and back. Chains and a padlock now secure the door closer to the shop's northwest corner. Back then, both that door and another front door a few feet east were kept unlocked during business hours.

When Cain suddenly came through the door nearest the corner, Ruby Sias — by then behind the nearby counter — knew he was being a nuisance. She wasn't afraid of him, she says, but she asked him to leave.

Cain stood his ground. He continued to harangue Garfield, who had walked up from the rear of the shop. Sias says Cain insisted that he could go anywhere he liked.

"He kept backing me up, getting in my face," says Garfield, who called 911 again. The police dispatcher told him to remain calm and assured him that officers would be there shortly. Court records show the dispatcher directed officers to a nearby vehicle collision instead.

During one of Garfield's frustrated calls to police during the confrontation, Sias recalls, Garfield told the operator, "What do I have to do, take care of this myself?"

Garfield retreated outside, through the other set of front doors facing McDowell Road. Cain followed him out. Sias doesn't know for sure what happened next, but Garfield says he figured Cain was going to beat him up, maybe kill him. Since the confrontation had been going for about 15 minutes, with no cops arriving, Garfield says he thought he was more likely to get help if motorists along the busy street saw it happen.

Once outside, according to Garfield, Cain said, "You better know that I'll be back, and when I am, you're going to welcome me. It's no more your store than mine. And if you don't welcome me, you may not live to be sorry."

The man walked off, Garfield says, as he held his cordless phone to his ear on his third call to police. Now that Cain was gone, though, there was no reason for officers to respond.

The incident profoundly affected Garfield. A few weeks later, the former Valley insurance agent bought a small, semiautomatic handgun. He let it be known to the other antique dealers who worked in the shop that the weapon was there in case of another run-in with Cain.

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8 comments
Alittletruthphoenix
Alittletruthphoenix

Attorney Sara J Powell is nothing more than a scum bag personal injury lawyer - check her website out - she proudly displays her membership in the "Million Dollar Fourm" at the bottom of the page - a group of attorney whom proudly proclaim their winning awards in excess of 1 million dollars for clients -

treasurehunter
treasurehunter

I go in this antique mall all the time. I HAD NO IDEA this even happened.

1shot1kill
1shot1kill

Interesting article.

The Garfield - Cain shooting has limited similarities to the Fish case.They both sound like "suicide by self-defense" since the deceased were both mentally / emotionally unstable.

For that matter, Garfield sounds like he doesn't have a full magazine either, e.g. Grand Canyon trip.

The background of provocation between Garfield and Cain certainly adds to the complexity. Provocation pretty much nullifies self-defense according to current law.

As Ray Stern probably is aware, there are two bills in the legislature right now to make concealed carry legal without the training, education and permit. House Bill 2347 and Senate Bill 1108This is a scary thought although education would probably have made little difference with Garfield since it does seem premeditated (and the article slants it this way).

What is unnerving about both killings is that while the shooters will probably end up walking the streets again, both are financially devastated defending themselves in the legal system. Putting the burden of proof on a shooter for self defense doesn't seem compatible with innocent til proven guilty.

The article is a severe indictment of both the public mental health system and the emergency 911 line. Cain was a danger to himself from people like Garfield and should have been in treatment. Guns laws are in place because even though the cops would rather the public not take the law "into their own hands", they acknowledge they can't be everywhere at once.

Publius Maximus
Publius Maximus

Don't worry, Russell Pearce will get you a special bill that allows Arizonans to shoot transients retroactively, so it will apply to Garfield. Joe Arpaio is probably preparing a medal for him.

Teo Buneo
Teo Buneo

From what the other tenants at the store have to say about Garfield and his anger problem and his own words demonstrate that he's a lily livered wimp who planned carefully for his murder of Mr. Cain. The man should get the full 21 years, Those jurors should have convicted on the 2nd degree charge. If you plan a murder it's first degree murder! "Tough Guy" Tom Horne should be shown the door by voters if he's staking his career on support of this murderous wimp. I've worked with little chicken shits with big chips on their shoulders and Garfield fits that description perfectly. I wonder how long it'll be before Mr.Fish murders another stranger that scares him?

mahkai
mahkai

Aggravated assault is more serious than simple assault. Cain would have had to have had a weapon in his possession in order for this to be the case. From this article, it is apparent that he did not.

Interesting article. Thank you.

Peoriaman
Peoriaman

and how about the man, in his own home, waving a bat at police in the City of Peoria was shot dead with two bullets? Wife calls police, police enter home, and kills the man. Great, time we all carry guns. I wouldn't be surprised this guy goes down, but the the murdering police get off scott free.

 
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