Jury recommends death penalty for Palm Springs quadruple killer
After years of legal proceedings, a jury has sentenced convicted quadruple murderer Jose Larin Garcia to death for killing four people in Palm Springs in 2019.
VERDICT: "We the jury...fix the penalty as death for the murders..."— Jake Ingrassia (@JakeKESQ) February 24, 2023
Larin Garcia fell from his feet into his chair as the death sentence was recommended unanimously by the same jury that convicted him earlier this month for the murders of Carlos Campos Rivera, Jacob Montgomery, Juan Duarte Raya and Yuliana Garcia.
News Channel 3 spoke to Juror #5 and the jury's foreperson, Bill, who said while jurors were quick to vote to put Larin Garcia to death, taking only about an hour to deliberate, it was a decision they were thoughtful about.
"The message is we will not be frightened or bullied in our communities, and this behavior is unacceptable. We should not be afraid," Bill said.
Prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney Samantha Paixao declined to comment, but defense attorney John Patrick Dolan said, "Very disappointed. Obviously, a death sentence is just so heartless. This was a very difficult case. Very unhappy with the minimum amount of time the jury took to determine guilt... You should go after the guy who really did this, whose name is John Rivera."
That's a theory from the defense the jury resoundingly rejected: that another man was responsible for the killings.
Juror Bill said the evidence didn't support the defense's argument. He said much of the circumstantial evidence points to Larin-Garcia as guilty.
"They find him under a truck, where supposedly he's fleeing from the actual shooter, but he takes off his jacket and his shoes. We didn't believe that anybody fleeing would take their shoes off. Then it goes to the hospital to be checked out. And he flees the hospital. The video is clear about that he's actually running from the hospital," Bill said.
The jury found empathy for the families of those victims and the void Larin Garcia left for them.
“If you can talk to Larin Garcia today, what would you say,” News Channel 3's Jake Ingrassia asked Bill.
"I would say God have mercy on your soul and I hope he finds a way to the truth, that he can actually get to the point where he will find something to say to these families," he said.
With the jury's death penalty recommendation comes an automatic appeal. Defense attorney Dolan said he's confident the decision will be reversed.
Larin Garcia is set to be sentenced in May.
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Larin Garcia's family members spoke positively of his character and pleaded to the jury 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.