Was lust behind the slaying of this young woman?

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Family was what mattered more than anything to 26-year-old Lisa Mezera. And, with six siblings, she certainly had a big one.

She loved spending time with her dad Ron and the rest of her loved ones, especially her niece and nephews.

She enjoyed spending each Christmas with her much-loved grandmother.

She also loved collecting elephant knickknacks, playing basketball, and cheering for her sports team, the Bears.

According to a neighbour, young Lisa was always cheerful and full of life.

With her long, shiny hair and dark eyes she was beautiful, too.

Her dad must have been incredibly proud of Lisa and how popular she was.

And although she still lived with Ron, she was a grown woman and he was used to her going out with friends.

So he wouldn’t have had any cause for concern when, at about 4.30pm on Saturday 18 August 2012, he saw Lisa leaving with some friends, including her colleague Javier Garcia.

Tragically, though, Ron never saw his precious daughter again.

The next day was Lisa’s nephew’s first birthday party. The whole family gathered to celebrate – but Lisa didn’t show up.

Her mobile phone was going straight to voicemail, too.

Ron and other family were worried, and started calling local police and hospitals.

No-one could give them any information.

The next day, there was still no word from Lisa.

But Ron had heard on the radio that the body of an unidentified young woman had been found in the local B’Nai Zedek cemetery.

He filed a missing-persons report and hoped that the girl the police had found was not his beloved daughter…

Sadly, 45 minutes later, the police confirmed Ron’s worst nightmare.

The body in the cemetery was Lisa. His daughter was dead.

Worse, she’d met a violent end. She was partially clothed, had been hit on the head and choked to death.

The police scoured the cemetery looking for evidence, and the tight-knit community was scared.

There was a killer in their midst. Had he or she targeted their victim at random?

Investigators reassured them not, believing that Lisa’s death was an isolated incident.

‘I believe that whoever did this to her, she was familiar with,’ Sheriff David Beth said.

Police found the car that Lisa had travelled in when she’d left Ron’s house that Saturday, and searched that for clues, too.

On 20 August, they made an arrest – Lisa’s work colleague Javier Garcia.

Detectives said he was the last person to see Lisa alive.

He was accused of beating and strangling her.

The 52-year-old was charged with first-degree intentional homicide. He was held at Kenosha County Jail on probation and parole violations.

In October, Garcia appeared in court to appeal that his bail be set at a low figure, so that he could get out of prison.

‘He is clearly not in a position to post $1 million or $500,000. We’ve asked the court to set a significantly lower bond…’ his attorney said.

The judge insisted that his bond should be $1million – around £800,000.

Before the case came to trial, Garcia’s attorney questioned whether he would get a fair trial because of the media coverage of Lisa’s death.

However, Judge Mary Wagner ruled that news reports were not prejudicial.

Finally, in February 2014, Javier Garcia, 53, appeared in the Kenosha County court.

His defence maintained that Garcia was not guilty.

DNA evidence linked Garcia to Lisa, but he argued that no male DNA was found on Lisa and there was no proof as to how she’d lost her clothes.

Both the prosecution and the defence agreed Lisa and Garcia were together on the night of her death.

But if the pair were friends, why would Garcia want Lisa dead?

It subsequently emerged that Garcia had wanted a relationship with Lisa, but she’d rejected him.

Female DNA that was found in Garcia’s vehicle could have been hers. And DNA under her fingernails could have been his.

But there was no definite proof that Garcia had attacked Lisa – there were no eyewitnesses, and it was argued that all the evidence against him was circumstantial.

So had Javier Garcia attacked and killed Lisa – his friend and co-worker – because she’d rejected him?

Or was he simply the last person to see her alive – and in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Javier Garcia was found guilty of first-degree intentional homicide, aggravated battery, first-degree sexual assault, false imprisonment and a misdemeanour count of theft.

Before sentencing Garcia, the judge asked if he had anything to say.

‘I did not kill Lisa Mezera,’ he replied.

In April 2014, still maintaining his innocence, Garcia was sentenced to life and denied the possibility of parole, with the judge citing his lack of remorse.

‘One person has been found guilty of the most heinous crime I could ever think of, killing another person,’ said Ron Mezera. ‘And for what? I don’t know.’

This February, Garcia appealed his sentence but his conviction was upheld.