Key forensic experts testify in Palm Springs quadruple murder trial
Jurors in the trial for Palm Springs quadruple murder suspect Jose Larin Garcia heard today from key forensic experts: a crime scene technician, a fingerprint examiner and a blood expert.
The defense argues blood spatter on Larin Garcia's clothing is the only evidence linking him to the murders, saying it's there because he was a witness and not the killer.
Julie Osburn, a Palm Springs Police Dept. crime scene technician, was called to the stand. She processed the green Toyota Corolla that crashed at East Sunny Dunes Road, describing it as "extremely bloody." She said blood covered the seats and airbags, as well as parts of the exterior.
Prosecutors say three of the four victims were shot inside the car.
California Dept. of Justice senior criminalist Jenna Humphries testified that she found apparent blood at the East Sunny Dunes Road crime scene on the interior and exterior of the Toyota: on the rear bumper, passenger panel exterior, and inside the passenger handle.
She said she also found blood on a size 13 pair of black Sketchers, a black polyester jacket, and swabs taken from Larin Garcia's hands.
This evidence was prepared for DNA analysis, but the analysis wasn't yet shared in court.
Prosecutors previously said Larin Garcia was covered in the victims' blood following the murders.
Dept. of Justice fingerprint examiner Corey Schroeder testified too. He examined 7 cartridge casings related to the case but said he didn't find any prints.
Schroeder said he did find "red stains" on two of the cartridges, but stopped short of calling it blood.
Thursday, witnesses are expected to be called out of order to help efficiency in the trial.
The judge continues to express concerns that each day of testimony increases the likliehood a Covid outbreak could happen.
Tuesday, an intense debate broke out in court over how the suspect in a quadruple homicide left the hospital that night. The prosecution says Larin Garcia fled the emergency room, running from police, but the defense says he was discharged.
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 3 IN COURT:
The third week in this trial, 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."
Department of Justice forensics specialist Nancy McCombs testified and said the multiple bullet casings that were recovered could have come from the same gun. No weapon was ever found in the investigation.
Prosecutors poked holes in testimony from one witness who changed his previous account on the stand, and Palm Springs police investigators testified about the evidence collected from the scene.
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.