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Defense in Palm Springs quadruple murder case suggests another man killed victims

The defense delivered an opening statement in the Palm Springs quadruple murder case on Tuesday.

Jose Larin-Garcia, a Cathedral City man, is accused of killing four people (ages 17-25) on February 3rd, 2019. Larin-Garcia is being represented by criminal defense attorney John Patrick Dolan.

Jose Larin Garcia and his defense team in court on November 30, 2021. Photo: KESQ

Dolan told the jury that a man named John Olvera was seen leaving the scene minutes after the shooting, suggesting Olvera would have killed Larin-Garcia as well had he not been hiding under a truck.

Dolan displayed messages from John Olvera after the shootings. “I never meant that girl to die," reads one message. “Jacob thought I was playin’ he shouldn’t have had a kid female in the car cuz he knew I was gonna get him,” reads another. He says this implies Olvera is the killer.

Jacob Montgomery was killed in the shootings, along with Yuliana Garcia, Juan Duarte Raya, and Carlos Campos.

Dolan concludes by saying "this is an outrageous prosecution." He says "not proven equals not guilty." He urges the jury to focus on four elements, in this case, moving forward: "no weapon, no eyewitnesses, no gunshot residue and no compelling forensic evidence."

The prosecution's case

The prosecution delivered its opening statement on Monday.

“You will learn that Jose Vladimir Larin Garcia is the executioner,” said Samantha Paixao, Deputy District Attorney, Riverside County, addressing the jury in court. 

“The executioner” was a phrase Deputy District Attorney Paixao used several times during her opening statement to describe accused killer Jose Larin-Garcia. 

“Each victim suffered a gunshot wound to their head…all four were executed,” said Paixao.  

The prosecution says on the night of the murders, Larin-Garcia was in a car with three of the four victims. Paixao said Yuliana Garcia was driving, Juan Duarte Raya was in the passenger seat and Jacob Montgomery and Larin-Garcia were both in the backseat.  

She says the four were driving in Duarte Raya’s green Toyota Corolla, and that direct Facebook messages reveal Jacob Montgomery was going to sell drugs to the fourth victim, Carlos Campos Rivera. 

“These are the last known messages these two engaged in,” said Paixao.  

Paixao said when the Corolla approached the agreed-upon meeting spot in Palm Springs around 11:30 that night, shots were fired -- killing Carlos Campos Rivera. A witness said the Corolla then sped away. 

The four inside the Corolla were heading down E. Sunny Dunes Rd. when a witness heard additional gunshots. Paixao said it was at that moment that Larin-Garcia shot and killed the other three inside the car.   

“They didn’t stand a chance. There was the element of surprise. There was determination and there was an execution that was occurring inside that car,” said Paixao.  

She says Larin-Garcia jumped out of the moving Corolla before it crashed. She says police found him hiding under a truck without his shoes, and that a later investigation revealed he had the blood of both Montgomery and Duarte Raya on those shoes. 

While no gun was recovered from the scene, the prosecution says investigators found ammunition in Larin-Garcia’s bedroom. 

“The ammunition is consistent with the ammunition of the 9 millimeter weapon that was used for all four of the murders,” said Paixao.  

Larin-Garcia was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center the night of the murders, where he fled. He was arrested by police at a bus stop in the following days. 

In court on Monday, Larin-Garcia appeared calm. He did not turn to face the victims’ families or press that were present. 

Larin-Garcia could face the death penalty in this case, if convicted.  

Watch News Channel 3 at 5 and 6 p.m. on Tuesday to hear from the defense and for the latest developments in court. 

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Madison Weil

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