"He openly said to me, [and] to several other people, 'I got this gun. If he comes in the store again, I'm going to shoot him,'" says Pam McMillen, another antique dealer who leased space in the store in 2006.

The situation came to a head that April when Cain confronted Garfield inside the shop one last time.

As the unarmed homeless man advanced on him, the store owner shot him four times.

Cain collapsed and died.

Then he became an even bigger problem for Garfield.


At first, the cops treated the homicide as a case of self-defense. A search warrant was served at the store, and Garfield was questioned but not arrested.

Garfield maintains that he was within his rights to shoot, claiming he was in fear of his life and the lives of others in the store. This is Arizona, after all, a state that now allows firearms in bars and covers its citizens with some of the nation's strongest laws justifying use of force.

Yet three antique dealers who worked in the store don't understand how Garfield's action constitutes self-defense. Ruby Sias, Pam McMillen, and Tom Samora say they hadn't found Cain scary.

And Garfield never expressed fear of him, they say. It was more like the shooting was Garfield's way of ridding himself of a problem, McMillen says.

"It was something he knew he was going to do," she says. "It was planned — planned and executed."

Eventually, a Phoenix police detective came to the same conclusion and submitted the case to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for prosecution. More than a year later, Garfield was indicted by a grand jury for second-degree murder.

Garfield stayed on as store owner as he fought the charge. He opened his wallet for his defense, hiring the services of top criminal attorney Larry Debus. The case plodded along in the court system for two years before Garfield's 13-day trial last spring.

On April 9, 2009, on the third anniversary of the shooting, eight jurors found Garfield innocent of second-degree murder, but guilty of manslaughter.

Then came a spate of good luck for Garfield. In August, his conviction was tossed, and he was released from jail pending a new trial, all because of a guy named Harold Fish.

In a 2004 case somewhat similar to Garfield's, Fish shot and killed an unarmed man he said had threatened him on a secluded hiking trail near Payson. The case received a lot of press, and Fish became a poster boy for the National Rifle Association and other advocates for the use of firearms in self-defense.

The case also brought attention to a nine-year-old state law that made it easier to prosecute people who claimed to have killed someone justifiably. The Arizona Legislature took up the cause and changed the law, shifting the burden of proof in self-defense cases from the defendant back to the state. The law applied to everyone whose alleged crime occurred before April 24, 2006, the date the law took effect.

Yet lawmakers clearly wanted to help Fish, who had been tried under the pre-2006 law. Legislators argued that they meant the law to be retroactive. The state Supreme Court declared it wasn't, leaving Fish to face a prison sentence.

Lawmakers tried again in 2009 to make the 2006 law retroactive for anyone who hadn't yet pleaded guilty. Governor Jan Brewer approved the change.

The news was thrilling for Garfield, who had missed the cutoff day for the new law by a mere 15 days. In jail for nearly five months following the guilty verdict, he was released in August pending a new trial. His manslaughter conviction was tossed.

A setback soon followed: On December 31, the Court of Appeals ruled that because the 2009 law tries to go around a state Supreme Court decision, it's unconstitutional.

In January, Garfield's conviction was reinstated. He was thrown back in jail, where he now sits. He's scheduled to be sentenced on April 16 to between seven and 21 years in prison.

But he might get another chance.

The Arizona Supreme Court is expected to revisit the question of retroactivity in a few months. If the high court reverses the previous decisions, Garfield will be set free again as he awaits a new trial.

Whether he deserves to get off scot-free for shooting Cain, though, is another matter.


The corner of Seventh Avenue and McDowell Road, just north of Interstate 10, used to look rougher. Not long ago, on the southwest corner, the Emerald Lounge was replaced by SideBar, a Starbucks, and a Pei Wei.

But the boxy building that houses the Historic District Antique Mall appears as dilapidated as the shuttered antique store across the street, and the area — sometimes called one of the "gateways" to downtown Phoenix — still evokes a depressed urban feel.

The homeless are part of the corner's landscape. Transients often sleep in the vacant lot just south of SideBar. They wander north on Seventh Avenue from a homeless shelter on Jefferson Street, seeking money for a meal or their next hit.

"If you live or work in downtown, you deal with homeless people," says Sara Powell, an attorney with an office at Seventh Avenue and Portland.

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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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