Jury returns to Palm Springs quadruple murder case after mistrial denied
The jury in the quadruple murder retrial for Jose Larin Garcia is returning to the courtroom after nearly a month off the case.
Larin Garcia is accused of fatally shooting four people in Palm Springs in 2019. His first trial ended with a deadlocked jury.
The delay in the trial was caused by the late discovery of previously lost, incriminating evidence.
California Dept. of Justice Senior Criminalist Chad Eyerly retook the stand and continued his testimony where the trial left off.
Eyerly swabbed apparent blood collected from the crime scene, including from key pieces of evidence like the crashed Toyota Corolla, a black jacket and a pair of shoes that Larin Garcia stripped off while hiding under a pickup truck.
He testified that samples from various spots on Larin Garcia's shoes had "possible, likely contributors" that included victims Juan Duarte Raya, Jacob Montgomery and even Larin Garcia himself.
On the suspect's size XL, black H&M jacket that police found under the truck where he was hiding after the murders, DNA samples correlated closely with Montgomery and Larin Garcia. Eyerly said some of the presumptive blood stains could have come from Juan Duarte Raya, too.
The defense keyed in on the fact that DNA testing was not done on bullet casings, including one found in Larin Garcia's car trunk. Prosecutors said it links him to the murders.
Judge Anthony Villalobos announced Tuesday his decision to deny a defense request for a mistrial related to the new evidence, however he opted to exclude the most incriminating evidence from being heard by the jury.
Last month, a paper bag containing a bullet casing, a cigarette butt, broken glass and debris was found in the trunk of the crashed Toyota Corolla where three of the victims were shot.
The casing is described as a long-missing eighth bullet shell, with an "FC" manufacturer headstamp.
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.
Prosecutors noted the FC casing matches FC live bullets found in Larin Garcia's bedroom and a spent FC casing in the trunk of his car. The defense previously alleged police planted it there.
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.
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 6 IN COURT:
A Palm Springs detective testified about finding a variety of ammunition in Larin Garcia's bedroom.
The judge excused the jury for nearly a month after new, incriminating evidence previously thought to be lost was discovered.
WEEK 5 IN COURT:
A forensic toxicologist testified about whether drugs or alcohol were detected in the victims' blood samples. A fingerprint examiner who processed seven 9mm bullet casings in this case said he did not find any fingerprints on them.
A DOJ criminalist and weapons expert told the jury after examining the bullet casings from the scene that she believes they were all fired from the same weapon.
Jurors heard an hours-long recording of the undercover operation in Larin Garcia's jail cell.
An undercover agent gave testimony about what Larin Garcia told him while he was posing as an inmate in jail.
WEEK 4 IN COURT:
A friend of Larin Garcia's told the jury that the defendant showed him a gun and threatened to kill someone just days before the murders.
A PSPD detective testified about evidence she collected from the scene and security video she retrieved of Larin Garcia running out of the hospital.
A girlfriend of one of the victims' spoke about showing police Facebook messages sent the night of the murders regarding the fentanyl drug deal at the heart of these murders.
The man the defense says claimed responsibility for the murders testified he did not kill the four victims in this case.
WEEK 3 IN COURT:
Last week, a family friend who harbored Larin Garcia after he fled the from the hospital testified. The jury also heard from the investigator who arrested him later that night at an Indio bus stop.
Larin Garcia's mother took the stand, revealing he called her the night of the murders and she brought him clothes and a cell phone after he ran from the hospital.
Medical examiners testified the victims were all killed instantly by gunshot wounds to the head.
A friend of the defendant spoke about a key phone call she got from the defendant just after the murders happened.
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.
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.