Defense rests in penalty phase of Jose Larin Garcia’s murder trial
The defense brought its final witnesses before a jury then rested its case in the penalty phase of the murder trial for convicted quadruple killer Jose Larin Garcia. He could face the death sentence after a jury found him guilty of murdering four people in Palm Springs in February 2019.
During the final testimony of the penalty phase, Larin Garcia's aunt, Consuelo Maribel Larin Alaman, spoke about her nephew's early life in El Salvador. She described him as a good kid who was loved by his family. He calls her from jail whenever he can, she said.
The defense team presented other witnesses who spoke positively of Larin Garcia's character. Walter Larin, his uncle, described him as well-mannered and hardworking. His cousin remembered Larin Garcia as a fun and affectionate person who enjoyed playing soccer and football.
Another one of Larin Garcia's cousins, Alex Jarcia, described him as goofy, extroverted, and a good person. He also acknowledged that Larin Garcia was smart enough to know the difference between right and wrong when asked by the prosecution.
Closing arguments are set to begin on Thursday, which means that the jury will soon be making a decision about whether or not to impose the death penalty.
The penalty phase of a trial can be an emotional time for everyone involved, as the fate of the defendant is ultimately in the hands of the jury. While the defense team may have presented evidence to mitigate Larin Garcia's actions, it remains to be seen if the jury will find it sufficient to spare his life.
Yuiliana Garcia's mother and sister remembered their last moments and the defense called Larin Garcia's mother to the stand.
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.