The penalty phase of the murder trial for Jose Larin Garcia, a Cathedral City man convicted of killing four people in Palm Springs four years ago, revealed heartbreaking impact statements from victims' families and new details about the defendant's behavior leading up to the crime.
Juana Raya, mother of victim Juan Duarte Raya, shared the pain she felt losing a second son. She testified about first losing her oldest son, Roberto Raya, to brain cancer about four years before Juan was killed. She remembered dressing both of her sons in the same clothes and same shoes – now she dresses their graves with the same flowers.
On February 3, 2019, the day before Roberto's birthday, Juan went out with his friends, Jacob Montgomery and Yuliana Garcia. His mom told him to "take care" – that was the last time she saw him. She told the jury, "He didn't deserve that. None of them deserved what happened to them. He didn't even have a chance to fight back," and she stated that Larin Garcia "destroyed so many lives."
Law enforcement also shared new details about Larin Garcia's July 2018 DUI.
Riverside County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Mathew Allert responded to Bob Hope Drive and Ramon Road in Rancho Mirage, where Larin Garcia was found around 8:30 p.m. passed out behind the wheel at a traffic light. Larin Garcia grew combative toward deputies and refused to follow orders. Allert said he appeared to try to flee and attempted to escape from his restraints. He was booked for DUI but not assaulting an officer.
This case has had a devastating impact on the victims' families, and the penalty phase will determine whether Larin Garcia will face life in prison or the death penalty.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.