Larin Garcia quadruple murder trial: Defense expert substituted milk in blood spatter experiments
Defense expert Randolph Beasley, a crime scene re-constructionist, was back on the stand Tuesday in the murder trial for Jose Larin Garcia, the Cathedral City man accused of killing four people in Palm Springs in February 2019.
Beasley has disputed a prosecution blood spatter report that asserts Larin Garcia was the only other person in the car where the victims were shot.
Good morning, we are tracking the latest in the Larin Garcia quadruple murder trial. Follow along with the latest from the courtroom in this thread below @KESQ— Jake Ingrassia (@JakeKESQ) February 15, 2022
More background: https://t.co/zYBKSZs40k
Beasley believes in between victim Jacob Montgomery and Larin Garcia, another person was in the middle of the back seat – a man the defense says is actually responsible for the crimes.
There has been intense debate over blood spatter experiments Beasley conducted to try to recreate the circumstances of the shootings.
One experiment conducted 10 days ago involved Beasley shooting a 9mm gun in close range at a styrofoam head meant to represent Jacob Montgomery. He said blood spattered in a manner that could have reached Larin Garcia, even with the shooter in the way.
But a big issue was that Beasley used 1 percent milk with red dye instead of real blood in these experiments. The prosecution and the judge agreed the two are not equivalent.
Beasley testified in an earlier hearing he didn't know if four people or five were in the car at the time of the shooting, and that even his own analysis was not definitive.
Prosecutors will continue questioning their blood stain pattern interpreter, Craig Ogino, Wednesday. Closing arguments are expected Thursday before the jury will deliberate, then reach a verdict.
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 6 IN COURT:
In the sixth week, a DNA expert testified about blood found on key pieces of evidence like the like the crashed Toyota Corolla and a black jacket and pair of shoes that Jose Larin Garcia stripped off.
A blood stain pattern interpreter said he believes there were only two people in the back seat of the crashed Toyota Corolla, dismantling a crucial part of the defense's argument.
The interpreter also calculated where the victims were when they got shot using blood stain pattern analysis.
A detective testified about ammunition he found in a search of the suspect's bedroom that is similar to what was discovered at the murder scene.
WEEK 5 IN COURT:
During the fifth week, the defense worked to prove that Larin Garcia was framed. A forensic investigator testified she didn't plant evidence, but some errors could have been made in the processing of evidence.
A Coroner's office forensic pathologist revealed autopsies for two of the victims found multiple gunshot wounds to the head as the causes of death.
A PSPD investigator testified he didn't plant a bullet casing in the suspect's trunk to frame him.
An undercover agent who posed as an inmate in Larin Garcia's jail cell after the murders testified the suspect told him he was "screwed."
WEEK 4 IN COURT:
In the fourth week, there was an intense debate over whether Jose Larin Garcia fled the hospital following the February 2019 killings.
Jurors heard from key forensic experts: a crime scene technician, a fingerprint examiner and a blood expert.
Crucial testimony was set up from undercover agents who posed as inmates and spoke with the defendant at length after the crimes.
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.