Prosecution and defense rest in Palm Springs quadruple murder trial for Jose Larin Garcia
Testimony is complete in the murder trial for Jose Larin Garcia, accused of fatally shooting four people in Palm Springs in February 2019.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys officially rested their cases Wednesday afternoon after a prosecution expert made a rebuttal to claims his blood spatter analysis was inaccurate.
Prosecution blood stain pattern interpreter Craig Ogino was called back to the stand, and said the defense's counterpart expert, Randolph Beasley, was at times "misleading the jury."
Good morning, the quadruple murder trial for Jose Larin Garcia is winding down. I'm tracking the latest from the courtroom in the thread below @KESQ— Jake Ingrassia (@JakeKESQ) February 16, 2022
More background: https://t.co/nRlfxo3a5T
Beasley disputed Ogino's opinion that there were only two people in the back seat of the Toyota Corolla in this case: victim Jacob Montgomery and suspect Larin Garcia. The defense argues a third person, the real killer, was in the middle seat.
Ogino responded to an experiment Beasley conducted that immitated the shooting of Jacob Montgomery using a 9mm gun, a styrofoam head and a sponge soaked in fake blood.
Ogino said the pressure of a human head versus a styrofoam one is not the same, which affects the results of the spatter.
For the fake blood, it was revealed Beasley used 1 percent milk with red food dye – a concern for both prosecutors and even the judge.
Ogino said he doesn't use fake blood and doesn't know of any studies that do so.
Pointing to key evidence of blood spatter on a middle rear seatbelt enclosure, Ogino said it was scientifically proven there were only the three victims and Larin Garcia in the car.
Ogino's testimony was the last in this trial. Closing arguments are expected Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 9 a.m. and then the case will be in the jury's hands for deliberation.
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.