A a jury in California deliberated for less than one hour before convicting a 23-year-old man of commiting a quadruple murder four years ago. Now, that same jury could sentence the defendant to death.
On Feb. 3, 2019, police officers from the Palm Springs Police Department were dispatched to a car crash, where the bodies of shooting victims Yuliana Garcia, 17; Jacob Montgomery, 19; and Juan Duarte Raya, 18, were found in the vehicle. The body of Carlos Campos Rivera, 25, was located several blocks away from the scene.
Paixao said blood spatter evidence showed that the shooter was in the backseat of the car. She pointed out Jose Larin-Garcia, 23, was the only person to escape the car alive and was the only possible shooter in what officials believe was a drug deal turned violent.
Larin-Garcia’s attorney, John Dolan, however, claimed his client wasn’t the shooter, but instead was a survivor who was running for his life when someone else opened fire, officials said.
On the day of the shooting, Larin-Garcia was found hiding under a truck a few blocks from where the victims died. Dolan said this was because he feared for his life and thought he would be the final target.
Police took Larin-Garcia to an area hospital for treatment of a laceration, but he left the facility that night wearing a hospital gown and without being discharged by doctors.
He then walked to the home of a friend accused of helping him gather his belongings and purchase a bus ticket to Florida under a fake name. However, Larin-Garcia was arrested at a bus station in California just before boarding.
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This was the second trial for Larin-Garcia. His first trial ended without a verdict early last year after the jury couldn't reach a consensus, according to authorities.
The second trial began in September, but it was almost called off after months of testimony when police found evidence that was previously reported as lost.
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The defense asked for a mistrial, stating they needed more time to analyze the contents of the bag that was found in the truck of the crashed car. The judge, however, excluded the new evidence, denied the motion for mistrial and ordered the trial to continue.
According to Desert Sun, the bag contained glass shards collected at the scene and a bullet casing thought to have been missing.
Larin-Garcia was found guilty of four counts of murder and is eligible for the death penalty after the jury determined he committed multiple murders and laid in wait to kill the victims.
After the verdict was read, defense attorney Dolan told News Channel 3, "I'm very disappointed, upset and I'm gonna go puke now."
Dolan plans to file an appeal, telling Desert Sun the case's outcome is "horrible."
"There's no way that the jury could have arrived at that verdict in the amount of time they had," he said.
The sentencing phase of the trial is set to begin on Feb. 8. Larin-Garcia can only be sentenced to the death penalty if the jury unanimously agrees to the punishment.
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