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Palm Springs quadruple murder re-trial: defendant’s friend testifies about key phone call

A friend of the defendant took the stand Tuesday in the re-trial for Jose Larin Garcia, the man accused of killing four people in Palm Springs in 2019.

Larin Garcia is accused of murdering four people in Palm Springs in 2019. His first trial ended earlier this year with a deadlocked jury.

Brenna Lee testified Tuesday, Larin Garcia's friend from high school and the person he reached out to right after the murders.

On a phone call, he asked Lee for a ride and sent his location on Desert Way in Palm Springs. Lee told the jury Larin Garcia's voice sounded "trembly" and out of breath. He told her he was under a truck and she said she could hear sirens in the background.

Lee said Larin Garcia didn't mention the murders to her, despite one of the calls lasting nearly four minutes. When she got to the scene to pick him up, the area was swarmed with police. She was not able to give her friend a ride.

Questions arose about why Lee didn't give this information to police until after Larin Garcia's cell phone records were accessed. She changed her number after finding out about the murders, saying she didn't want any appearance of being involved.

Palm Springs Police Detective Francisco Salgado also testified Tuesday.

He interviewed the man the defense says committed the killings, John Olvera, at his North Palm Springs RV.

The defense said Instagram messages shown to police that were sent from Olvera's account appear to show him taking credit for the murders.

Salgado said Olvera denied sending the direct messages, though he admitted to similar posts on his Facebook page, claiming they were rap lyrics by NBA Youngboy.

Salgado said he conducted a short search of Olvera's home but did not find bloody clothes, a gun or ammo.

Asked by the defense why Salgado didn't get a search warrant, he said he didn't have probable cause, and "didn't have enough to show that there was any evidence deeming Olvera the suspect."

Monday, the jury continued hearing testimony from a friend of the victims, one of the last people to see them alive, and learned gruesome details from a forensic pathologist who autopsied some of the victims.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqauzl7a2To

News Channel 3's Jake Ingrassia is tweeting live updates from court: follow along here.

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 four years ago.

Jose Larin Garcia, 23

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 from the hospital 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 2 IN COURT:

The jury heard from a police investigator and a friend of some of the victims.

A hospital nurse who treated Larin Garcia as a trauma patient the night of the murders testified he ran from the emergency department.

A Palm Springs police officer gave testimony key to the defense argument that another man carried out the shootings. 

The jury was brought on-location to the scene of the crimes.

WEEK 1 IN COURT:

During opening statements, prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney Samantha Paixao asked the jury to hold Larin Garcia responsible for the four lives she said he stole.https://youtube.com/embed/qTPiv4vZAoc

Defense attorney John Patrick Dolan argued that another man, John Olvera, was responsible for the murders.

The jury heard 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.

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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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