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Testimony begins in Ithaca murder trial

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Testimony begins in Ithaca murder trial
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Drugs, money and a relationship with a woman, all at the heart of a murder, according to the prosecution. Tamara Lindstrom has been following the trial of Corbin Whyte, an Ithaca man accused in a fatal shooting. She tells us what was revealed on the first day of testimony

TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. -- A violent confrontation, robbery and revenge. That's how the prosecution's witness described the events leading up to the shooting of 47-year-old Paul Garcia.

Garcia was found dead in the parking lot of his Maple Hill Apartment complex December 7th, 2010.

Ithaca native Corbin Whyte is charged with second degree murder, robbery and tampering with evidence. Prosecutors say Whyte either shot Garcia or acted in concert with another person to kill him.

On Thursday, Garcia's girlfriend, Giselle Mojica, described how Garcia had been away for about a month before the shooting, then returned after she told him that Whyte had made a pass at her, a claim the defense disputed.

Mojica said the pair lured Whyte into their apartment, where Garcia robbed him of drugs and money and threatened him with a knife, all while Mojica's four children were sleeping upstairs.

Mojica said Whyte threatened to return and retaliate and that Garcia later went out of the apartment to meet him. That's when the tearful witness said she heard a gunshot, along with Whyte's voice outside her door.

Both the prosecution and defense pointed out that no one actually saw who pulled the trigger. Assistant District Attorney Andrew McElwee said Whyte had the motive, means and opportunity to commit murder. But defense attorney James Baker said there's no DNA evidence, blood or gunshot residue that can tie Whyte to the crime.

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