The judge in the Palm Springs quadruple murder retrial denied a mistrial after new, potentially incriminating evidence was discovered.
Jose Larin Garcia is accused in the deadly shootings of four people in Palm Springs in 2019.
The disruption to the case came during the second jury trial for these murders. The first ended earlier this year with a deadlocked jury.
Judge Anthony Villalobos stresses the missing evidence that was found was not by any egregious activity by the District Attorney, but rather negligence on the part of police.
Villalobos said his intent was to proceed and exclude the evidence, as if it never existed.
The court broke for a recess following this announcement while the defense team discussed its best path forward.
The defense wants to bring in some of the lost evidence, including broken glass from the car window that its blood spatter expert would analyze.
The defense attorneys must now decide whether to proceed under their original defense and exclude all of the new evidence, or admit all of the evidence and craft a new defense.
It appears a mistrial is off the table in either case, but this is pending a final resolution.
News Channel 3's Jake Ingrassia is standing by in the courtroom with live updates on Twitter.
Good morning - we are back in court today for the decision from Judge Anthony Villalobos on whether to declare a mistrial in the Palm Springs quadruple murder retrial. It comes after new, potentially incriminating evidence was discovered.— Jake Ingrassia (@JakeKESQ) December 6, 2022
I'm standing by.https://t.co/XWah0gIK5R
"The challenge here is this is in the middle of a second trial. And it changes the state of the evidence," said defense attorney John Patrick Dolan.
Dolan and defense attorney Anthony Valente filed for a mistrial last week, saying they need to start fresh with a third jury.
In the trunk of the crashed Toyota Corolla where three of the victims were shot, a paper bag containing a bullet casing, a cigarette butt, broken glass and debris was found.
The casing is described as a long-missing eighth bullet shell, stamped FC as the manufacturer.
The casing was fired by the same weapon as the other bullets used in the murders, and is believed to have been among debris that was swept up by a tow truck driver from around the car at the murder scene.
"Evidence to come up in the middle of a second trial on a quadruple murder is not acceptable when we're trying to put on a case based on the state of the evidence," Dolan said.
Prosecutors Monday noted the FC casing matches FC bullets found in Larin Garcia's bedroom and a spent casing in the trunk of his car. The defense previously alleged police planted it there.
In a written response, prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney Samantha Paixao wrote, "...even if that evidence is excluded, based upon truth in evidence, (the defense) will still be unable to proceed with their current defense. A request for continuance by the defense for further investigation and examination of evidence and to establish a new defense is not unreasonable under the circumstances."
"I think the best move is to have a mistrial and start over again," Dolan said.
The judge is expected to announce his decision Tuesday morning.
The defense has also filed a motion for a dismissal of the case. The prosecution said Monday they need more time to respond.