INDIO (CNS) – Closing arguments are slated to get underway Tuesday in the trial of a Cathedral City man accused of killing four people in Palm Springs three years ago.
Jose Vladimir Larin-Garcia, 22, is charged with four counts of first- degree murder, a special circumstance allegation of targeting multiple victims and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations for the deaths of Jacob Montgomery, 19, Juan Duarte Raya, 18, Yuliana Garcia, 17, and Carlos Campos Rivera, 25.
The defense rested its case last week, and Riverside County Superior Court Judge Anthony Villalobos ordered jurors to return to the Larson Justice Center in Indio Tuesday morning, when final statements from the two sides are expected to be presented.
Larin-Garcia is being held without bail at the Benoit Detention Center in Indio.
According to prosecutors, three of the victims were found in a Toyota Corolla that crashed at Sunny Dunes and El Placer roads about 11:40 p.m. on Feb. 3, 2019, while the fourth victim — Rivera — was located 30 minutes later lying on a street about a half-mile away.
Montongery, Raya and Garcia were killed inside the car. The latter was pregnant.
During opening statements in November, prosecutors asserted that the blood found on Larin-Garcia’s clothing linked him to the crime scene, and that bullet casings found there matched those seized in the defendant’s car during a later search.
Deputy District Attorney Samantha Paixao alleged Larin-Garcia was inside the Toyota with the three victims, and Montgomery was planning to make a drug deal. The defendant was in the back seat when he allegedly fatally shot Rivera, who was leaning against the car on Canon Drive, south of Theresa Drive, Paixao said.
After the shooting, the driver of the Toyota sped off, but Larin- Garcia allegedly gunned him down, as well as the other two vehicle occupants, then jumped from the moving car before it crashed into a parked Jeep at Sunny Dunes and El Placer roads, according to the prosecution.
Paixao alleged that Larin-Garcia killed the trio because they had witnessed Rivera’s killing, and he wanted to silence them.
According to attorney John Dolan, the blood spatter identified on Larin-Garcia’s clothing did not prove murder, and there was no search for the alleged gun the prosecution claims he used in the crime, only bullet casings.
John Doe, an undercover officer who spoke with Larin-Garcia while posing as a jail inmate, testified that the defendant admitted fearing that officers had obtained his gun as evidence, though Larin-Garcia never admitted anything.
According to preliminary hearing testimony, Larin-Garcia was found by officers hiding under a pickup just blocks from the scene of the Toyota crash. He was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries but wasn’t arrested.
The defendant left the hospital after being questioned by Palm Springs police, going to a friend’s house. Detective Steve Grissom testified that the friend went to the defendant’s mother’s home to retrieve fresh clothing and an ID card for the defendant. 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,” Grissom testified.
At some point that day, Larin-Garcia shaved his head to change his appearance, then the friend drove him to the bus station in Indio, where he was arrested, Grissom testified.
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