Closing arguments begin in Palm Springs quadruple murder trial
Closing arguments are underway in the murder trial of Jose Vladimir Larin Garcia, charged with four fatal shootings on the night of Feb. 3, 2019, in Palm Springs.
Assistant District Attorney Samantha Paixao delivered the first part of her closing argument to the jury on Tuesday.
Paixao hoped to convince the jurors one last time that not only was Larin Garcia the person who committed these crimes, but also that it was his specific intent to kill the victims.
“Within moments, Vladys took four people from this world without batting an eyelid,” Paixao said.
Closing arguments are expected today in the murder trial of Jose Larin Garcia, charged in the fatal shooting of four people in Palm Springs in 2019. @KESQ
— Jake Ingrassia (@JakeKESQ) February 22, 2022
After detailing how victims were systematically executed with “death blows” to the head, she said the evidence shows Larin Garcia was aware of his guilt.
Paixao noted how Larin Garcia hid under a nearby truck after the shooting, then fled the hospital without being discharged before trying to travel thousands of miles on a one-way bus ticket.
The prosecution disputed the defense’s argument that another man might be responsible, and that’s what Larin Garcia was running from.
“If you are running from an executioner on the night of February 2019, are you going to take off your shoes while hiding under the car? Are you going to take off your jacket while hiding under this car? No, what he was doing, it was that he was withdrawing from the crime. He is trying to get rid of the evidence,” Paixao said.
Paixao told the jury that the man the defense finds guilty is “a red herring” and that there is no evidence he was ever at the scene of the murder.
The members of the jury participated in the closing argument. The judge and the prosecutor underlined the notebooks on the notebooks they took in the case. Family members of the victims were also in the courtroom; some occasionally wiping away tears as this dramatic trial draws to a close.
Prosecutors say three of the victims were systematically executed in a Toyota Corolla that crashed on East Sunny Dunes and El Placer roads just before midnight on February 3, 2019. The body of the fourth victim was found 30 minutes later lying in the street half a mile away. .
The jury heard of blood found on Larin Garcia’s clothing which splatter experts said showed he was in close proximity to several of the victims when they were shot.
The defense says the fact a murder weapon was never found is a big hole in the case, but prosecutors say an unusual combination of 9mm bullet casings from the scene match those found in Larin Garcia’s bedroom and in the trunk of his car.
An undercover officer who posed as an inmate in Larin Garcia’s Banning prison cell said he used the Spanish word “fregada”, which he said translates to an expletive meaning “I am screwed up”.
The officer said Larin Garcia advised detectives found the weapon used in the shooting.
The defense questioned its own blood spatter expert who testified, based on his analysis, that there was another person in the Toyota Corolla with Larin Garcia: John Olvera.
The prosecution called Olvera to the stand early in the case, and he testified that the social media posts appearing to show him taking credit for the murders were simply bluffs or lyrics by a rapper called Young Boy.
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.
The four victims were all found shot on the night of February 3, 2019.
Three of the victims were found inside a car that crashed on Sunny Dunes and El Placer roads. The fourth victim was discovered on the street on Canon Dr. a few blocks away.
When the police arrived on the scene, they found Larin Garcia hiding under a truck. They say he appeared drunk and covered in blood.
Larin Garcia was taken to the Desert Regional Medical Center for treatment. Security footage shows him fleeing the property later that night.
Detectives testified that he then went to a friend’s house from whom he bought a one-way bus ticket to Florida using a false name. Prosecutors say he was preparing to flee – shaving his head and beard to change his appearance. He was arrested while waiting at the bus stop.
Larin Garcia is charged with four counts of murder. He also faces a special circumstance allegation of having committed multiple murders, exposing him to the death penalty if convicted.
WEEK 7 IN COURT:
The prosecution and the defense have closed their case. A bloodstain pattern interpreter testifying for the prosecution said the defense’s peer expert “sometimes misled the jury.”
The defense expert disputed a prosecution report on the blood spatter claiming that Larin Garcia was the only other person in the car where the victims were shot.
He said he replaced blood with milk in his own re-enactments of the shooting, but said it proved another person, the real killer, could have been in the car.
WEEK 6 IN COURT:
In week six, a DNA expert testified to blood found on key pieces of evidence like the crashed Toyota Corolla and a black jacket and pair of shoes that Jose Larin Garcia took off.
A bloodstain pattern interpreter said he believed there were only two people in the back seat of the crashed Toyota Corolla, dismantling a crucial part of the defense’s case.
The interpreter also calculated where the victims were when they were shot using bloodstain analysis.
A detective testified about ammunition he found during a search of the suspect’s bedroom that is similar to that found at the murder scene.
WEEK 5 IN COURT:
In week five, the defense worked to prove that Larin Garcia was framed. A forensic investigator testified that she did not file any evidence, but that some errors could have been made in the handling of the evidence.
A medical examiner from the coroner’s office said autopsies on two of the victims revealed multiple gunshot wounds to the head as causes of death.
A PSPD investigator testified that he did not plant a bullet casing in the suspect’s trunk to entrap him.
An undercover officer who posed as an inmate in Larin Garcia’s jail cell after the killings testified that the suspect told him he was “screwed”.
WEEK 4 IN COURT:
In week four, there was intense debate over whether Jose Larin Garcia fled the hospital after the February 2019 killings.
The jurors heard from the main forensic experts: a crime scene technician, a fingerprint examiner and a blood expert.
Crucial testimony was set up by undercover agents who posed as inmates and spoke at length with the accused after the crimes.
WEEK 3 IN COURT:
The third week of this trial, jurors heard from John Olvera, the 18-year-old who the defense says is actually responsible. Police investigated posts on his social media accounts that appeared to take credit for the killings, but Olvera repeatedly testified that he posted rap lyrics or “presented” as a “gangster.” budding”.
Justice Department forensic specialist Nancy McCombs testified and said the multiple bullet casings recovered could be from the same gun. No weapon was ever found during the investigation.
Prosecutors punched holes in the testimony of a witness that changed his previous account on the stand, and Palm Springs police investigators testified to evidence gathered at 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 the night of the murders.
Two police officers who responded on the night of the killings also spoke. One testified that 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 leave.
The court also heard from several witnesses, including a neighbor, police inspector and former friend of the accused. The friend shared that Larin Garcia said he wanted to rob one of the victims before the murders.
WEEK 1 IN COURT:
During the first week of the hearing, the prosecution delivered its opening statement. The defense then delivered its opening statement, saying another man, John Olvera, was responsible for all 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 bodies of the victims, and people who personally knew the victims. The court also heard that 17-year-old victim Yuliana Garcia was pregnant at the time of her death.