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Gunshot wounds to the head: autopsies revealed for some Palm Springs quadruple murder victims

In the quadruple murder trial for Jose Larin Garcia Tuesday, new details were revealed about the autopsies of two of the four victims.

The prosecution has said the victims were executed, each one shot in the head.

Mark McCormick, a forensic pathologist with the Riverside County Coroner, took the stand and shared gruesome details on the examination of the wounds that took the lives of victims Jacob Montgomery and Juan Duarte Raya.

Prosecutors said the night of the murders, Montgomery, Raya and Yuliana Garcia were in a Toyota Corolla with the defendant. Yuliana Garcia was driving, Raya was in the passenger seat, and Montgomery and Larin Garcia were in the back.

Montgomery's autopsy found his cause of death was two gunshot wounds to the head. Skin markings left behind by gunshot powder indicated to McCormick one bullet was fired in the "intermediate" range. The other, he said, was fired at "close" range – near direct contact between skin and the gun.

Raya's autopsy showed two gunshot wounds from directly behind, though McCormick said he couldn't determine what range they were fired from.

He said both victims were killed in "a matter of seconds."

McCormick added that fentanyl detected in Montgomery's and Raya's blood did not impact their cause of death.

Palm Springs Police crime scene technician Julie Osburn returned to the stand and spoke to concerns from the defense that evidence was planted inside Larin Garcia's Honda Civic, including a plastic "baggie" with a bullet casing in the trunk.

Osburn testified that she didn't plant anything, including hiding a bullet casing in the defendant's car to frame him.

On Monday, Osburn took the stand as the defense worked to cast doubt on how the investigation was conducted. Osburn admitted some errors were made.

Last week, crucial testimony was set up from "Perkins operation" agents – undercover officers who posed as inmates at the Banning jail the day after the murders. They were trying to obtain recorded statements from the accused murderer.

The recordings, which are reportedly hours long and in Spanish, will not be played in court. But the agents will soon take the stand, with their testimony highly crucial to the case.

It could reveal if Larin Garcia incriminated himself while speaking in the jail cell.

BACKGROUND:

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.

Jose Larin Garcia, 22

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.  

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 4 IN COURT:

In the fourth week, there was an intense debate over how Jose Larin Garcia left the hospital following the February 2019 killings.

The prosecution says Larin Garcia fled the emergency room running from police, but the defense hopes to convince the jury he was discharged.

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 statementThe 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.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

Jesus Reyes

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