Palm Springs quadruple murder trial: Weapons expert says one gun could have been used
More testimony was given Tuesday in the murder trial for Jose Larin Garcia, the Cathedral City man accused of fatally shooting four people in Palm Springs in 2019.
Jurors heard from a weapons expert who testified about forensic evidence collected from the murder scenes.
Department of Justice forensics specialist Nancy McCombs took the stand, telling the court multiple bullet casings that were recovered could have come from the same gun. No weapon was ever found in the investigation.
McCombs determined the gun was a 9mm semi-automatic handgun as all the bullets found were 9mm, though manufactured by different companies. Analysis of the marks imprinted on shell casings were similar, she said, indicating they were fired from the same gun.
Prosecutors said bullet casings found inside the Toyota Corolla in which police said three of the victims were shot match casings found in Larin Garcia's car.
In a search of Larin Garcia's Cathedral City home, police found a bloodied shirt and 9mm ammunition.
The defense argues only blood spatter links the defendant to the crime scene, and the lack of a murder weapon leaves a big hole in the investigation.
Monday, jurors heard from John Olvera, the 18-year-old who the defense argues is actually responsible. Police investigated posts on his social media accounts that appeared to take credit for the murders, but Olvera testified in several instances he was publishing rap lyrics or "fronting" as a "wannabe gangster."
Olvera said on the witness stand that he was merely posing online, calling himself "a watered down gangster," or a "wangster."
Asked directly by prosecutors if he killed the four victims, Olvera testified no. "I was fronting for the 'gram, fronting for the media... I'm a wannabe rapper," he said.
Olvera was excused from the stand though he could be brought back later in the trial.
News Channel 3 reporter Jake Ingrassia is tracking the case – follow along with his updates on Twitter here.
Jose Larin Garcia, a Cathedral City man, is accused of killing four people (ages 17-25): Carlos Campos, Jacob Montgomery, Yuliana Garcia and Juan Duarte Raya nearly three years ago.
The four victims were all found shot and killed on the night of February 3rd, 2019.
Three of the victims were found inside a car that crashed at Sunny Dunes and El Placer roads. The fourth victim was discovered in the street on Canon Dr. few blocks away.
When police arrived on scene, they found Larin Garcia hiding under a truck. They say he appeared intoxicated and covered in blood.
Larin Garcia was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center for treatment. Security footage shows him running away from the property later that night.
Detectives have testified he then went to a friend’s house who he had buy him a one-way bus ticket to Florida using a fake name. Prosecutors say he was preparing to flee – shaving his head and beard to change his appearance. He was arrested waiting at the bus stop.
Larin Garcia is charged with four counts of murder. He also faces a special-circumstance allegation of committing multiple murders, opening him to the death penalty if convicted.
WEEK 2 IN COURT:
During the second week in court, the jury heard from Larin Garcia's mother, who says she received a call from her son on the night of the murders.
Two police officers who responded on the night of the murders also took the stand. One testified he saw a 'tall, thin' figure running near one of the crime scenes, but that person was never found or brought in for questioning. Larin-Garcia is not described as tall or thin. The court also heard from a family friend of Larin Garcia who helped him buy a one-way ticket to Florida the day after the murders. Larin Garcia was arrested before he could depart.
The court also heard from several witnesses including a neighbor, police detective and former friend of the accused. The friend shared that Larin Garcia had said he wanted to rob one of the victims prior to the killings.
WEEK 1 IN COURT:
During the first week in court, the prosecution delivered their opening statement. The defense then delivered their opening statement, arguing another man, John Olvera, is responsible for the four deaths.
Several witnesses were called to the stand, including a Palm Springs Police Department Dispatch Supervisor, several neighbors who heard gunshots or saw the victims' bodies, and individuals who knew the victims personally. The court also learned that 17-year-old victim Yuliana Garcia was pregnant at the time of her death.