Prosecution rests in Palm Springs quadruple murder trial penalty phase, defense testimony begins
The prosecution rested its case in the penalty phase of the trial against Jose Larin Garcia, the Cathedral City man who was convicted of murdering four people in Palm Springs four years ago. The defense is now making its case on why Larin Garcia's life should be spared.
The jury heard from the mother and sister of victim Yuliana Garcia, who was the youngest of the four killed at just 17 years old. Yuliana was behind the wheel of the murder vehicle in this case when she was shot. It was revealed after Larin Garcia's conviction that Yuliana was pregnant when she was killed.
Tanya Garcia, Yuliana's sister, testified that she had been friends with victims Jacob Montgomery and Juan Duarte Raya since elementary school. She said Yuliana was brave and kind, stood up for others, loved animals, and hoped to someday become a veterinarian. Tanya said finding out her baby sister was gone brought the worst days of her life.
Yuliana's mother, Maria Morales, said the last time she heard from her daughter was just hours before the murders, when Yuliana told her she was okay and would be home soon. She said Yuliana told her, "'Mom, I love you.' She hugged me really hard like if she knew. She would always give me hugs, but that day she didn't want to let go of me."
Larin Garcia's defense team called his mother, Yudis Vanegas, to the stand. She recalled fond family memories and said Larin Garcia's absence the last four years has left "an enormous emptiness." She pleaded to the jury, "Please think carefully what you are going to do. This is a life. He is a human."
Testimony will continue on Wednesday.
Jacob Montgomery's mother and grandmother expressed their sorrow in losing their only son and grandchild.
Family members of Juan Duarte Raya spoke about their pain and law enforcement revealed new details about the defendant's behavior leading up to the crime.
One of Larin Garcia's ex-partners testified about abuse she said she suffered from him.
Loved ones of Carlos Campos Rivera shared the the difficulties they face without him.
The jury heard opening statements from the prosecution and defense.
WEEK 11 IN COURT:
The prosecution incisively cross-examined the defense's expert witness, a crime scene re-constructionist.
The prosecution continued poking holes in a defense expert's testimony.
The judge ruled to exclude a defense expert's experiment that substituted milk for blood.
WEEK 10 IN COURT:
A judge ruled defense crime scene re-constructionist Randolph Beasley would be allowed to testify before the jury.
New details were revealed about a jail security incident involving suspect Jose Larin Garcia tampering with a lock.
Beasley aimed to recreate the crime scene on the courtroom floor.
The reconstruction's goal was to prove three people could have fit in the back seat of the Toyota Corolla in this case.
WEEK 9 IN COURT:
The defense called two Palm Springs Police Department employees to the stand to explain why audio recordings from the night no longer exist.
The judge denied a defense motion to acquit the defendant.
WEEK 8 IN COURT:
A DNA expert continued testimony about apparent blood swabbed from key pieces of evidence.
The prosecution's blood stain pattern interpreter testified about calculating the victims' positions in their final moments.
The prosecution rested its case.
WEEK 7 IN COURT:
After about a month off from the trial, the judge gave consideration to a defense request for a mistrial due to new evidence being discovered nearly four years after the crimes.
The mistrial was ultimately denied and the most incriminating piece of evidence was excluded.
The jury returned and testimony continued with a DNA expert.
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.