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Palm Springs quadruple murder re-trial: autopsies reveal victims killed by gunshots to the head

In the re-trial for Jose Larin Garcia, the man accused of killing four people in Palm Springs in 2019, the jury continued hearing testimony from a friend of the victims, one of the last people to see them alive, and learned gruesome details from a forensic pathologist who autopsied some of the victims.

Larin Garcia is accused of murdering four people in Palm Springs in 2019. His first trial ended earlier this year with a deadlocked jury.

News Channel 3's cameras were denied by the judge to film witness testimony.

Saul Murillo was back on the stand – a friend of victims Jacob Montgomery, Juan Duarte Raya and Yuliana Garcia.

Murillo told police he saw his friends around 11:20 p.m. the night they were murdered, with another "heavyset Hispanic" man with short hair who he did not know or recognize. He said the man was referred to as "Vladis," which prosecutors believe is short for Jose Vladimir Larin Garcia.

Murillo could not identify Larin Garcia in a photographic lineup of 6 people shown to him by police at the time. He also later testified it could have been Duarte Raya's cousin Gio, who is also heavyset and Hispanic. Prosecutors say Murillo never told that to police. Gio is no longer alive to prove if that theory could be true.

Dr. Mark McCormick was next on the stand – a forensic pathologist with the Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner's office. He did the autopsies for Jacob Montgomery and Juan Duarte Raya.

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.

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 four years ago.

Jose Larin Garcia, 23

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 from the hospital 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 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.https://youtube.com/embed/qTPiv4vZAoc

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.

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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.

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