Crime & Courts

Trial begins for Washington man accused of killing Southeast Alaska surgeon

A jury trial began in Anchorage on Monday for a Washington man accused of killing a Ketchikan surgeon at his home six years ago.

Jordan Joplin, now 38, was charged with first-degree theft and first- and second-degree murder in the death of 58-year-old Dr. Eric Garcia. The two men had known each other for about six years and were in a relationship, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors say Joplin killed Garcia and stole money and valuable belongings from him. Joplin’s attorneys said the doctor was generous, and killed himself by ingesting morphine.

The case was moved to Anchorage because of the amount of publicity it received in Ketchikan. In opening arguments Monday at Boney Courthouse, attorneys for both sides outlined for the jury the evidence they plan to present over the course of the trial.

Prosecutors said Joplin told law enforcement “a legion of lies” to cover up his involvement in the death.

Joplin flew to Ketchikan from his home in Washington to visit Garcia on March 16, 2017 before they took a trip to Las Vegas, said Bethel District Attorney Mark Clark, who is one of two attorneys trying the case on behalf of the state. Joplin told officials that was the last day he spoke with Garcia, Clark said. Joplin flew home to Washington the next day.

Prosecutors played a video during Monday’s hearing that they said was taken by Joplin on March 17, 2017. The video showed Garcia gasping for air on the couch in his home. He was close to death in the video, which was taken on Joplin’s cellphone, Clark said.


Ten days later, police entered Garcia’s home and found him dead in the same position as he was seen in the video, Clark said. He died from a fatal dose of morphine, attorneys in the case said Monday.

Joplin stole Garcia’s belongings and money after killing him, according to Clark.

Investigators found that nearly $40,000 had been transferred from Garcia’s checking account to Joplin, including some transactions made after Garcia died, according to Clark. On March 17, Joplin packaged up three shipping containers of Garcia’s belongings that were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and sent them to his Washington home, prosecutors told the jury.

Joplin took Garcia’s cellphone with him when he returned to Washington and hid it under his bed in a bag that prevented the device from sending or receiving communications, Clark said. He then called the Ketchikan Police Department several times in the following days to request a wellness check on Garcia because he said he was concerned he hadn’t heard from him, according to Clark.

Joplin eventually returned to Ketchikan on March 27, 2017 to open Garcia’s home with his set of keys so police could enter, prosecutors said.

A woman came forward several years after Joplin was initially charged in the case and told authorities she had sold him liquid morphine and he had inquired how much of the drug was needed to kill someone, Clark said.

“The evidence will show that for Dr. Garcia, this was true love,” Clark told the jury. “And for Jordan Joplin, it was a transactional relationship.”

An attorney representing Joplin told the jury Monday that the evidence does not show that Joplin killed Garcia, but instead that Garcia killed himself.

Garcia was a generous man who was in love with Joplin, said defense attorney Mary Burnell. The two often discussed Joplin’s dreams and Garcia wanted to invest in him, she said.

Because of their close relationship, Joplin was the one person Garcia felt comfortable enough with to confide in about his struggles with pain and anxiety, Burnell said. He sought relief from those struggles by consuming the morphine that ultimately led to his death, whether it was intentional or not, she said.

Jurors on Monday also heard testimony from Garcia’s personal assistant, a close friend. She described him as one of the only on-call surgeons in Ketchikan, a dedicated doctor who loved making conversation with his patients as well as an avid collector who accumulated coins, gemstones, alcohol, cigars, watches and other belongings.

The trial is expected to last four to five weeks, the Department of Law said in a statement.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at