A man accused of shooting four people who were found dead at two different locations in Palm Springs was ordered Thursday to stand trial on capital murder charges.
Jose Larin-Garcia, 19, is facing four counts of murder stemming from the Feb. 3 shootings. Three of the victims were found inside a car that crashed at Sunny Dunes and El Placer roads, while the fourth was found in the street about a half-mile away.
Larin-Garcia, who remains jailed without bail, is due back in court for arraignment March 14. The murder charges against him include the special- circumstance allegation of multiple murders, making him eligible for a possible death sentence.
During a preliminary hearing, prosecutors contended that Larin-Garcia fatally shot 25-year-old Carlos Campos Rivera around 11:30 p.m. Feb. 3 while the victim was standing next to or leaning inside a Toyota Corolla in which Larin-Garcia was seated with the three other eventual shooting victims on Canon Drive south of Theresa Drive.
After that shooting, prosecutors alleged, the driver of the car sped off, but Larin-Garcia — seated in the back seat of the car — fatally shot the three other people in the vehicle then jumped from the moving car before it crashed into a parked Jeep at Sunny Dunes and El Placer roads.
Killed inside the car were Jacob Montgomery, 19, Juan Duarte Raya, 18, and Yuliana Garcia, 17.
Police testified earlier in the hearing that Larin-Garcia was found by responding officers hiding under a pickup truck just blocks from the scene of the car crash, and he was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center for treatment of various abrasions. Prosecutors said Thursday the abrasions were consistent with a person jumping from a moving vehicle.
Larin-Garcia fled from the hospital, where police had been questioning him, and ran to the home of a friend, prosecutors said. That friend went to Larin-Garcia’s mother’s home to retrieve fresh clothing and identification from a wallet. Later in the day, the friend also bought bandages for Larin-Garcia, along with a Greyhound bus ticket to Florida under the name “Joseph Browning,” Palm Springs police Detective Steve Grissom testified during the hearing.
“He knew that Mr. Garcia was trying to get away with regards to the traffic collision,” Grissom said. “So he bought him a ticket under a false name.”
At some point that day, Larin-Garcia shaved his head to change his appearance, then the friend drove him to the Greyhound bus station in Indio, where he was eventually arrested, Grissom testified.
Palm Springs Police Detective Edman Escallada confirmed that Larin- Garcia called his mother after his arrest, claiming he was innocent of the crimes and needed a lawyer “to seek his options.” The mother then asked why he was running from law enforcement if he was innocent, to which Larin-Garcia responded he was intoxicated, scared and an idiot, Escallada said.