Woman’s ex-boyfriend testifies her husband hit and killed his friend with tow truck; she claimed no memory of crash

Cameron Prince testified Wednesday that Maximilliono Farias was driving the tow truck on May 16, 2022 that struck and killed his friend John Garner, 19.

He and Garner had been walking back from the mall and were cutting through a parking lot west of Mississippi Street in Merrillville when Prince, then 18, heard an engine rev up behind him. Prince said he turned around to see if he was in the way.

He realized the driver was coming right at them. It happened in 2-3 seconds, he said. Farias was driving, while his wife Dezarae Farias, the passenger, was “freaking out,” he said.

He yelled out Garner’s name, but it was “too late”, he said. He saw the tow truck’s bumper strike Garner’s face. Prince called 911, who told him to do chest compressions until paramedics arrived. Garner was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Maximilliono Farias, 39, of Merrillville is on trial this week, charged with murder and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death or catastrophic injury, a level 4 felony. He has pleaded not guilty.

Prince, now 20, met the couple at a Knights Inn and started hanging out in 2021.

He had gotten involved with Dezarae, now 29, for about five months starting in fall 2021 after he turned 18. She continued to go back and forth between him and Maximilliono. When he thought she was increasingly choosing Farias, he broke up with her in March 2022.

The husband knew about their relationship, Prince said.

“It didn’t make me feel good,” he told defense lawyer John Maksimovich.

Dezarae Farias repeatedly testified Wednesday that she didn’t remember anything that would incriminate her husband, claiming she had “memory problems.” She said she knew Garner, who was one of her “best friends” and like a “brother.”

When Deputy Prosecutor Maureen Koonce asked her who killed Garner, Dezarae hesitated for several moments, before she said she didn’t understand her question. After Maksimovich objected, Koone replied that Dezarae wasn’t being honest.

“She’s clearly uncomfortable answering the question,” Koonce said.

Tell us what happened, the prosecutor later asked.

“I don’t remember,” Dezarae responded.

She couldn’t say what Farias’ demeanor was that day, but remembered later being at the police station. She claimed she didn’t remember what she told detectives. She agreed with Koonce when asked if Farias was her “ride or die.”

Did you tell Farias you’d recant your testimony, Koonce asked. Dezarae said she didn’t remember.

Koonce later played parts of several recorded jail phone calls and read some of the woman’s prior deposition testimony from September.

“I begged you to kill us,” Dezarae appeared to tell Farias in one call. “We should have left for the state line while we can.”

“We never would have made it,” Farias told her.

“That’s why I (will recant),” Dezarae appeared to say in a different call. “I’m not going to let them use my statements against him.”

Farias told her in another call that he would have to “throw you under the bus” — i.e. saying she grabbed the wheel.

“I’m not doing 40 years,” he said.

“So, you’re going to lie and say I grabbed the wheel,” Dezarae said.

“I will, because you did,” he said.

On cross-examination, Maksimovich asked her how the affair affected Farias.

“I had nowhere else to go,” she said, when he asked why she moved back with her husband. “He was all I had.”

The trial continues this week.

Merrillville Police were called around 7 p.m. to Sheffield’s Sportsbar and Restaurant parking lot, 1515 E. 82nd Ave., for a reported crash. Garner was lying in the south parking lot.

Investigators suspected Dezarae Farias initially lied to them before she admitted the relationship with Prince. She lied to police because she was “scared of losing” Farias, she told police, according to court records.

She and Farias had an abusive relationship in the past and he punched her in the face in a Walmart parking lot earlier that day, she told police.

They were headed to Jimmy John’s near Sheffield’s when Farias recognized Prince and swung toward Sheffield’s parking lot, she said.

She said Farias was driving between 20 to 30 mph before he hit Garner, charges allege. She believed Farias was trying to “scare” Prince.

She told police Farias blamed her that he “killed an innocent person” because of her relationship with Prince, court records show.

Farias fled the scene. He was arrested at the Pilot Travel Center gas station near Indiana 2 and Interstate 65.

Garner was a YouTube creator using his stage name, Fhantxm, who loved making music, according to an online fundraiser for his funeral.

The trial is before Judge Gina Jones.