Testimony continued Thursday in the re-trial for Jose Larin Garcia, the man accused in the deadly shootings of four people in Palm Springs in 2019.
News Channel 3's cameras were denied by the judge to film witness testimony. The first trial of Jose Larin Garcia ended with a deadlocked jury.
The jury heard Thursday from some of the first people on scene after the murders, including neighbors who saw the dead bodies and the police officer who first made contact with the suspect.
Good morning- day 2 of testimony in Jose Larin Garcia's re-trial for four Palm Springs murders is set to begin shortly. Follow along with my live updates from court in this thread. @KESQ— Jake Ingrassia (@JakeKESQ) September 29, 2022
Witness Robert Pantanella took the stand, a resident on Sunny Dunes Road near the murder scene. Around 11:40 p.m. that night, he heard a crash, "like something exploded," he testified.
Pantanella ran outside to find his burgundy Jeep that had been parked on the side of the street crashed into and knocked across the road.
He said he saw two men near a crashed Toyota Corolla, and testified, "I saw the heads of the kids in the car."
One of the men told him they were all dead. Despite describing one of those men as "skinny," Pantanella did not corroborate the defense argument that a slender man was seen limping from the crime scene.
He described blood spatter on the canvas cover of the jeep, which was declared totaled and towed away.
Another neighbor, Jose Oliva, testified to the jury he was watching TV with his wife and kids when he heard five or six gunshots in rapid succession. He also said he didn't see anyone "limping" or "running" from the crime scene.
Palm Springs Police Detective William Moss recalled for the jury coming upon a pickup truck not far from the scene, where he saw a person underneath. He later identified the person as Larin Garcia.
Moss ordered Larin Garcia several times to come out and when he finally complied, Moss said he saw a "red substance" smeared on his hands, arms and clothes.
He said Larin Garcia seemed "confused," and was "delayed" in responding, which could indicate that he didn't want to be forthcoming, Moss said. It could also be due to the involvement of drugs or alcohol, or other reasons.
Day 1 - opening statements
Opening statements and witness testimony began Wednesday in the second trial for Jose Larin Garcia, 23. He is accused of murdering four people: Carlos Campos Rivera, Jacob Montgomery, Yuliana Garcia and Juan Duarte Raya on Feb. 3, 2019.
In March, a previous jury told the judge they were "hopelessly deadlocked" with a split vote and could not reach a unanimous decision on whether Jose Larin Garcia was guilty.
Prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney Samantha Paixao made the case the murders happened as the result of a drug deal gone bad.
"The evidence will show...that the executioner the one that killed every single one of those victims on February 3 of 2019 is Jose Vladimir Larin Garcia," Paixao said.
Defense attorney John Dolan argued that another man, John Olvera, was in the back seat too – and he is who actually committed the murders.
"The question for this trial is who did the shooting. And that's what you'll have to decide," Dolan said.
After the murders, Larin Garcia was found hiding under a truck near the scene. He had removed his bloodied jacket and shoes. He was taken to the hospital where overnight surveillance video showed him running from his room.
Larin Garcia then shaved his head and tried to take a Greyhound bus to Florida under a fake name.
The prosecution said this demonstrates his guilt, while the defense argued he was running from the real killer.
"The evidence will show there's no way that Mr. Larin Garcia was proven to have committed these four acts," Dolan said.
"I will stand before you at the end of this trial and ask you to hold him accountable...for what he stole on that night: four people's lives," Paixao said.