Suspect in road-rage death of graffiti activist to appear in court

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Maruta Gardner. (Courtesy of Mission Beach Women's Club Facebook)

SAN DIEGO — Arraignment is scheduled Thursday for a motorist accused of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs when he got into a road rage incident in Mission Beach that ended with him fatally striking a 69-year-old community activist who was cleaning up graffiti.

Jonathan Domingo Garcia, 23, is accused in the death last Friday night of Maruta Gardner.

Garcia was driving a black Toyota Corolla when he and a motorist driving a white Ford Mustang became involved in a case of road rage about 5:45 p.m., said San Diego police Officer Robert Helms.

Helms said Garcia sped to the right of the Mustang, drove along the road shoulder, and struck the victim at the entrance to the jetty at 800 San Diego Place. Garcia fled but was stopped nearby by officers, Helms said.

Gardner, a former principal at Mission Bay High School, was honored by the San Diego City Council last year, which declared Nov. 3 “Maruta Gardner Day.”