Defense Attorney in Quadruple Murder Trial Pleads for Delay – Judge Rejects Request

By Brinda Kalita, Darling Gonzalez and Sam Alcaraz

RIVERSIDE, CA – The defense team here in Riverside County Superior Court in the ongoing quadruple murder trial for Jose Larin-Garcia late this week—before the weekend recess—pleaded for a continuance to obtain an audio transcript.

Before the jury trial reconvened, Defense Attorney John Dolan requested the delay, but Judge Anthony Villalobos denied it, explaining the defense had already had the audio for two years and he would not delay the trial further.

“We’ve lost six alternates already, we are in the middle of a COVID pandemic, I don’t see how we can just apply a delay since both counsels have had this audio for two years…you could have transcribed it before,” said Judge Villalobos.

Dolan then asked Judge Villalobos to have an audio transcriber to go on the record to describe the difficulties of transcribing the audio due to its quality. The judge allowed that.

When asked by Dolan about the audio quality, the transcriber stated, “I’ve been working on it. It is very poor quality. There are officers that are wearing wires, and a lot of the testimony is coming in muffled…there’s a lot I have to go back and forth.”

Deputy District Attorney Samantha Paixao asked the transcriber how long she had worked on the audio, and she said she had worked on it for four days.

DDA Paixao then asked if having the audio provided for six months, one year, or a year and a half ago would have assisted her. She said yes.

The trial began with a testimony by investigator Jarred Bishop, who explained what a “Perkins” operation was and his role in the operation.

Given investigator Bishop’s experience with interviews and interrogations, Dolan asked his opinion on whether video evidence was more beneficial than audio evidence.

Investigator Bishop replied, “I don’t necessarily agree that video would be the best evidence. I think just having an audio recording is sufficient as well. It is good as well.”

Dolan asked Investigator Bishop to clarify what a pre-brief was, and Bishop described that it was a synopsis of the case given to undercover agents prior to the “Perkins” operation.

Dolan later questioned if one of the goals of the operation was to get a confession from Larin-Garcia, to which Bishop replied, “Yes.”

Later, Dolan asked, “Did [Palms Spring Police Dept.] ever tell you they were going to threaten to arrest [Larin-Garcia’s] mother?”

DDA Paixao objected, but Judge Villalobos overruled.

“I remember there being a discussion about his mother, but I don’t recall the exact conversation,” Bishop replied.

Dolan then asked Bishop if the discussion of the plan for the “Perkins” operation (from a 1990 case, Illinois v. Perkins, regarding an investigative procedure before a suspect has invoked their Miranda rights) between the officers was recorded and Bishop stated it was not.

In the cross-examination, DDA Paixao asked Bishop if the pre-brief, post-brief, and entire conversation with Larin-Garcia was audio-recorded, to which Bishop confirmed it was.

DDA Paixao then asked if it was normal for officers to record their procedure before an operation and Bishop said it was not.

The prosecution then called Investigator “Doe” to testify. Investigator Doe was a part of the “Perkins” operation that was conducted on Larin-Garcia. In order to protect his safety as a Perkins operation agent, his real name was not revealed to the court.

DDA Paixao also asked Investigator Doe about his Spanish-speaking abilities. Doe replied that Spanish was his first language, he was raised in Mexico, he attended school in both the United States and that he still speaks Spanish at home.

Doe also described his job as a Perkins agent to the court. As a Perkins agent, he stated that his end goal is to find the truth of what is being investigated.

To do so, he presents himself as an inmate and gives himself a backstory, in order to keep himself safe. He also makes sure that his mood matches the environment of the rest of the inmates, who tend to be jovial.

Doe also added that in the pre-brief of his mission, he gets very little information about the actual case. Instead, he receives certain information about the suspect’s behavior.

He said this is so that when he goes into work as a Perkins agent, he can gather information about the suspect naturally, and not go in with a certain agenda.

DDA Paixao asked Doe if there were any differences from the Larin-Garcia operation and his previous operations, to which he replied in the negative.

Then, DDA Paixao asked if his mission was recorded. Doe stated that, while the mission was recorded, it includes everything from when he entered the jail cell and includes conversations that were not with Larin-Garcia.

Doe then went on to discuss his first impressions of Larin-Garcia. He stated that Larin-Garcia was a lot like everyone else in the cell, happy and full of respect for the other inmates.

Doe also mentioned how Larin-Garcia and he became close, due to their shared language of Spanish and love for music.

Doe then mentioned Larin-Garcia’s “odd” reaction after being charged with homicide. Larin-Garcia was also looking for a specific song about how he was already feeling condemned.

“He took it in stride. He was not upset about it. He had a defeatist attitude about it. He did not mention that he was being falsely accused, until later on in the conservation,” Doe said.

However, Larin-Garcia’s attitude changed completely after officers told Larin-Garcia that his mom could be charged for association with his crime.

“He started saying things like his mom was not involved in what he did, she wasn’t there, she never called him, she never provided him with anything in the case. He started asking things like, ‘What can I do to help prove that my mom did not do anything?’ This was when Larin-Garcia had a normal reaction to the situation,” Doe stated.

DDA Paixao then moved on to asking Doe if he and Larin-Garcia had ever talked about a firearm. Doe stated that Larin-Garcia had said that law enforcement had a gun, and he nodded his head when asked if he had a gun.

However, Doe also mentioned that Larin-Garcia was not concerned about the gun, but rather about the strength of the case against him and his mother.

“At this point, this is where he goes and says, ‘En fregado,’ which appropriately translates to I’m screwed,” Doe noted.

However, Doe clarified that this was, once again, only in reference to worrying about his mother, and not about any of the charges against himself.

DDA Paixao then redirected her focus and asked if Larin-Garcia had known about the DNA testing. Doe replied that, at first, the “defendant” didn’t know what DNA was, and that he had to translate it to “ADN.”

Once Doe had translated, Doe then said that they would need to do the DNA testing on him, since they found an item that potentially had his DNA on it. After this, Larin-Garcia became concerned with the tests and kept asking about it, Doe stated.

DDA Paixao then asked if there was any point where things were not being picked up in the recording of these conversations. Doe said around the second “simulation,” there were times when he and Larin-Garcia had whispered that the recording may have not picked up the conversation.

Doe was then asked by DDA Paixao if he had any conversations with the defendant about witnesses on the scene. Doe replied with a yes, and also elaborated on Larin-Garcia’s reaction.

“We started to have a conversation, we ran through what his case was like, if the weapon was found and if there were any witnesses. The defendant then says, ‘I think someone must have seen something,’” Doe recalled.

Doe also stated that Larin-Garcia never had a conversation or even a concern about being framed.

DDA Paixao raised an objection about defense counsel’s characterization of the word “threat,” in his questioning of Investigator Bishop, who raised the possibility of arresting defendant Larin-Larin-Garcia’s mother while he was in jail.

DDA Paixao said, “She was a potential PC 32 (accomplice). We know that. We’ve discussed it, and this court has made a ruling. I’m asking this court to remind (defense counsel) about the court’s earlier ruling that there was no threat, no coercion. That’s why the statement’s allowed in. And for him to refrain from using that word in cross-examination or direct examination”

Judge Villalobos sustained the objection and told defense counsel, “We discussed this. You can ask, was he told that his mother may be arrested? Or could potentially be charged with something? That’s different than saying, ‘Was there a threat?’”

DDA Paixao asked Doe about the undercover agent’s conversation with Larin-Garcia regarding firearms, to which Doe testified, “I remember him saying ‘they have it,’ meaning the gun and I remember him…shaking his head up and down yes, when asked if they have the gun, meaning law enforcement.”

Doe then reiterated the fact that Larin-Garcia was not visibly upset about being suspected for the murders until the mention of his mother’s involvement, which then prompted him to get angry and start pacing the floor.

DDA Paixao then questioned whether there was any mention by Larin-Garcia of John Olvera, a suspect introduced by the defense, to which Doe responded that there was not.

In Defense Attorney Dolan’s cross-examination of Doe, he hammered in on the fact that Larin-Garcia stated on multiple occasions during the simulation that he was innocent and did not know why this was happening to him.

Dolan also asked if there was any follow up to their conversation about the firearms, and Doe responded that he asked Larin-Garcia how he knew they had the gun, to which received no answer.

The prosecution’s next witness was Erica Jacobs, a fingerprint examiner for Riverside County, who explained she examined a total of nine latent prints brought to her by the agency and was tasked with comparing them to four packets containing prints from the victims and suspects in this case.

Of the nine latent prints, only one palm print and one fingerprint were usable for comparison. Neither of these were a match to Jose Larin-Garcia, John Olvera, or any of the three victims used in this analysis

The last witness to take the stand was Investigator Griffin, who testified that two casings were collected at the crime scene that included two 9mm Lugers. He also mentioned that there was blood on these casings.

DDA Paixao asked if these casings were the same type of casings collected from a homicide in Palm Springs on Jan. 20, 2019, to which Griffin stated that they were not.

Judge Villalobos announced that the trial will resume next Monday at 9 a.m.

About The Author

Darling is an incoming junior at UCLA, majoring in English and Political Science with an interest in law. She is originally from Bell Gardens, California.

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