Prosecution expert disputes defense in Palm Springs quadruple murder retrial
Closing arguments are expected this week in the Palm Springs quadruple murder retrial for Jose Larin Garcia.
He is accused of murdering four people in Palm Springs in 2019. His first trial ended with a deadlocked jury.
Monday the prosecution called back to the witness stand its blood stain pattern interpretation expert, Craig Ogino. He used blood spatter and physics in this case to reconstruct the victims' positions in their final moments.
Ogino disputed testimony previously given by defense's counterpart expert, crime scene re-constructionist Randolph Beasley, who previously testified for more than two weeks.
Responding to one blood spatter experiment Beasley conducted using 1% milk as a substitue for blood, Ogino told the jury the milk is less than one-fourth the consistency and does not have the same effect of turning somewhat solid.
Ogino said he would never use milk in a blood spatter experiment.
The defense expert used that experiment and others to prove that spatter in the murder vehicle supports the defense theory that another person was in the back seat.
Beasley used the blood substitute in an experiment imitating the shooting of Jacob Montgomery in which he fired a 9mm gun at a styrofoam head with a sponge soaked in the fake blood.
This was to demonstrate how backspatter from Jacob Montgomery's wounds could explain key blood spatter found on the center rear center seatbelt receptacles in the murder vehicle.
Ogino said the spatter proves no one else could have been in the backseat – and Beasley's experiments purported to show as such are faulty.
Ogino told the jury his opinion had not changed that Larin Garcia was the only person in the car when the victims were shot.
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.
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. https://94074ba3f981382123d0a534f30e99d9.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
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 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 statement. The 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.