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Jury ‘hopelessly deadlocked,’ mistrial declared in Palm Springs quadruple murder trial

A mistrial was declared Tuesday in the Palm Springs quadruple murder trial for Jose Larin Garcia after the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict.

The 12 jurors in the case reported to the judge that after nearly 6 days of deliberations, they were "hopelessly deadlocked" in their decision.

"We went through all the evidence, the testimony, we debated, and we just simply couldn't see eye-to-eye," Juror #11 said.  

The jury was split across all four counts of murder. For the first three victims, Jacob Montgomery, Juan Duarte Raya, and Yuliana Garcia, it was 9-3 in favor of guilt.

For the fourth victim, Carlos Campos Rivera, who was found a few blocks away, it was 8-4 in favor of guilt.

"It's sad; what happened it is sad," Juror #11 said. "Justice for the family is all that I can hope for."

"We basically told the prosecution as a group that she needed to do more," said Juror #2, the foreperson for the group. He hopes to give both sides the information they need to help the next jury reach a verdict.

He said the defense derived doubt in some of the jurors' minds by pinning the crimes on another man.

"All it takes is just a little bit of– other side of the coin, that can get people to start thinking differently," Juror #2 said. "I looked at it completely as as analytically as I could, and tried to weigh both together. Not everybody saw that."

Defense attorney John Dolan called the deadlock disappointing, but said the split jury shows there was not proof beyond a reasonable doubt his client is guilty.

"They saw both sides of the story and couldn't come to a unanimous verdict about which story they seemed to find the most plausible," Dolan said. "We hope we do a better job the next time."

Judge Villalobos later scheduled Larin-Garcia for a trial-readiness conference on June 17 to begin the re-trial process.

PSPD Statement about the Larin-Garcia deadlock jury:

"The Palm Springs Police Department respects the jury process in these matters. We understand the District Attorney's office has decided to retry case and will support the District attorney's office as they move forward with the retrial."

News Channel 3's Jake Ingrassia is at the courtroom standing by for updates: follow along with live tweets here.

Last week, News Channel 3 obtained communications between the jury and the judge during their deliberations, which could give key insight into what jurors were carefully considering.

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.  

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 7 IN COURT:

The prosecution and defense rested their cases. A blood stain pattern interpreter testifying for the prosecution said the defense's counterpart expert was, at times, "misleading the jury."

The defense expert disputed a prosecution blood spatter report asserting Larin Garcia was the only other person in the car where the victims were shot.

He said he substituted milk for blood in his own reconstructions of the shootings, but said it proved another person, the real killer, could have been in the car.

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.

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 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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