Transient charged with attempted murder, hate crimes in Walmart assault on child


SAN JOSE — A woman accused of attacking a 4-year-old girl and her father with a crowbar in a Walmart store in May 13 targeted the pair because they were Asian, prosecutors said May 15.

Maria Garate, 20, was arraigned in Santa Clara County Superior Court May 15 on charges of premeditated attempted murder with a hate crime allegation and assault with a deadly weapon with a hate crime and is being held in jail without bail, Deputy District Attorney Kalila Spain said.

Spain, at a news conference outside the Hall of Justice in San Jose, said that Garate, a transient from San Jose, went into the Walmart Supercenter at 777 Story Road with the intent to attack Asians.

“Based on the evidence that we do have, we do know that the victims were targeted because they were Asian, so that is why we charged the hate crime allegation,” she said.

At about 11 a.m. May 13, San Jose police were informed about an assault with a deadly weapon at the Walmart on Story Road.

A woman later identified as Garate allegedly went up to an Asian man who was with his 4-year-old daughter, then struck the girl over the head with a tire iron, police Sgt. Heather Randol said.

When the woman tried to strike the girl another time, the father was also struck as he attempted to protect the girl.

Walmart security guards detained Garate until police arrived.

Police arrested Garate on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and booked her into county jail.

Spain said that the girl and her father were shopping “like any other day” and “the defendant came in and hit the victim over the head with a lug nut wrench and also attacked the father as well,” Spain said.

The man was not seriously hurt but the girl was transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The child has since left the hospital, Spain said.

“We do know that the victim is at home and she is recovering,” Spain said.

Spain declined to be specific concerning the evidence the district attorney’s office has except that the alleged assault was “a premeditated, willful act” on Garate’s part.

In a booking photo released by San Jose police on May 14, Garate is seen smiling with her head turned slightly.

Spain, asked by a reporter if Garate may be mentally ill, said that the prosecutors “don’t know why people commit the crimes that they do.”

“Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t,” she said. “There are a variety of defenses for any type of crime that we charge. Any additional information will come out later.”

Garate’s next appearance in court was scheduled for May 23, according to the district attorney’s office.

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