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Undercover agents prepare to testify in Palm Springs quadruple murder trial

It was a dramatic day Thursday in the trial for Palm Springs quadruple murder suspect Jose Larin Garcia, setting up crucial testimony that may come next week from undercover agents who spoke with the defendant at length after the crimes.

Before anyone took the stand, counsel for Larin Garcia shared he wasn't feeling 100 percent. The judge commented on his appearance, saying his eyes looked "droopy," and his attorney said Larin Garcia was "feeling warm." He took a rapid Covid test that came back negative, and said he felt well enough to proceed.

Expected to testify were "Perkins operation" agents, undercover officers who posed as inmates at the Banning jail the day after the murders. They were trying to obtain recorded statements from the accused murderer.

The defense argued that because Larin Garcia invoked his Miranda rights, the right to remain silent, the undercover interview was illegal.

But the judge decided, based on cases that allowed statements made by suspects to undercover agents, that the Perkins operation was fair game.

The recordings, which are reportedly hours long and in Spanish, will not be played in court. But the agents will soon take the stand, likely on Monday – with their testimony highly crucial to the case.

It could reveal if Larin Garcia incriminated himself while speaking in the jail cell.

After a contentious morning working out the details, the jury was dismissed for the weekend. Courthouse officials said a juror was unable to return after lunch, and the trial is dark Fridays.

Wednesday, forensic experts gave testimony including 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.

BACKGROUND:

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.

Jose Larin Garcia, 22

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.  https://973f2fb4ddf96c0e483df7c0fc14d511.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

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.https://youtube.com/embed/zyqjtgu2vhE&feature=emb_title

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 statementThe 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.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

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