Quadruple Murder Trial of Jose Larin-Garcia Proceeds: Officers Dispatched Night of Homicides Testify

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By Catherine Hamilton

RIVERSIDE, CA – A Riverside County Superior Court just Monday heard testimony from witnesses called by the prosecution in the case against Jose Larin-Garcia, a man accused of a quadruple homicide in Palm Springs.

One of the witnesses is an officer with the Palm Springs Police Department who was dispatched the night the homicides took place, Feb. 4, 2019. When he arrived at the scene, the department had one subject, Larin-Garcia, detained, who had a nervous demeanor, according to the officer.

When the officer elaborated that Larin-Garcia seemed nervous because of heavy breathing, Deputy District Attorney Samantha Paixao asked the officer what such a manner could signify.

But, private attorney John Dolan, one of the defense attorneys for Larin-Garcia, objected because he said it called for speculation, and Judge Anthony Villabolos sustained.

DDA Paixao reworded her question to ask about whether or not the officer went running often, a question that the defense again objected to on the cause of relevance. However, Judge Villabolos overruled the objection and the officer answered that he was indeed a runner.

DDA Paixao then asked if Larin-Garcia seemed like he had been running, based on his breathing patterns. After yet another overruled objection on the cause of speculation, the officer answered that it was possible.

In his testimony, the officer said he asked Larin-Garcia if he was okay, to which he received a response of “I’m not okay, I have just witnessed a murder” and “ask again when I’m sober.” The officer then told Larin-Garcia that he was safe.

The officer was dispatched to a different location around 12 a.m. on Feb. 5 where they found a man in the road of a residential street. The man was lying in a pool of blood, likely caused by the gunshot to the left side of his head.

When cross-examined, the officer was questioned by attorney Dolan about a cigarette butt that had supposedly been found at that crime scene. The officer said that he did not know about it, but did agree with Dolan that DNA could be found on evidence such as a cigarette butt.

Additionally, defense counsel Dolan tried to clarify whether or not Larin-Garcia had said he was afraid of someone or running from someone when the officer asked if he was okay.

The officer said he did not give such a statement, but Dolan asked why then the officer told Larin-Garcia that he was safe and no one could get him.

The officer said that he had not said that no one could get him, but rather that there were a lot of police around, signifying safety. Dolan asked why the officer felt the need to tell Larin-Garcia this if he didn’t say anything about being scared, to which the officer said it was a natural response to try to elicit the most cooperation.

The second witness called by the prosecution was another patrol officer who had been dispatched that night, Sgt. Pedro Nanez. He was dispatched first for a shots fired call, then on his way to the location, there was a second broadcast for a possible traffic collision.

Finally, there was another broadcast for a man who appeared to be injured, but Nanez did not find anyone. However, he testified that around the location where the man had been, he did find a bullet slug on the side of the street. He did not find any weapons.

Around 2 a.m. on Feb. 5, Nanez was tasked with transporting Larin-Garcia to the police station. However, he testified that the medical staff wouldn’t allow Larin-Garcia to be booked because he had major abrasions and back pain. Nanez then took him to a medical center.

Nanez said that he did notice abrasions to Larin-Garcia’s lower back that looked similar to road rash. Dolan asked if those abrasions could be caused by something such as jumping out of a moving car, to which Nanez responded, “Sure.”

Additionally, defense counsel Dolan asked if Nanez knew Larin-Garcia’s height and weight when taken to the medical center. Nanez said he got the information off his driver’s license, which stated that Larin-Garcia was 5’10” and weighed 230 pounds.

He also asked whether or not Larin-Garcia was visibly injured, such as with a limp. Nanez said he could not see any visible, physical injuries.

However, the broadcast for the man wandering around was described as slender and appearing injured, which did not fit the description that Nanez reported.

The trial reconvenes Tuesday.

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About The Author

Catherine is a freshman at UCLA, double majoring in English and Political Science. She is from Atlanta, Georgia.

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