Quadruple Homicide Trial Ongoing with More Expert Witnesses, Counsel Arguments

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By Ozzy Hernandez and Jake Romero

INDIO, CA – The quadruple homicide trial of Jose Larin-Garcia reconvened at the Larson Justice Center / Riverside County Superior Court midweek where two witnesses testified for the prosecution, but not before a dust-off between opposing legal counsel.

Prior to any direct questioning, Deputy District Attorney Samantha Paixao and private defense attorney John Dolan argued over the prosecution’s late evidence admission of a forensic DNA report.

The prosecution’s forensic expert said she retested a swab taken from a jacket belonging to Larin-Garcia that was retrieved from his car.

DDA Paixao explained that the retest was because she and her colleagues had mistakenly thought that the swab had never been tested, and that there was confusion over what areas of the jacket were positive for a victim’s blood.

DDA Paixao, in anticipation of the defense’s motion for continuance, read an email in which she informed the defense about the retest so they could be present with their own forensic expert. She then read the defense’s response which said they would not be present, citing “serious concerns” regarding late discovery.

The prosecution suggested that the defense was already aware of her mistake and predicated part of their defense strategy on it. The defense argued on Monday that the jacket could have been contaminated, and a crime scene technician testified that the jacket did not appear to be packaged properly before testing.

Judge Anthony Villalobos granted the defense’s request to hold off on introducing the retest to the jury so that their own forensic DNA expert could have time to review the new report and compare it with the previous.

Sean Dusek, lead investigator for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, testified how he obtained the social media accounts for John Olvera—who the defense claims is the real murderer—and how he reviewed Olvera’s Instagram posts.

He told DDA Paixao he was able to prove probable cause and obtain a search warrant for Olvera’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Dusek recalled seeing a disturbing message sent from Olvera to a friend named “Manuel Rivera,” where Olvera is seen rapping about assaulting people with guns and alludes to a local shooting that occurred at the Zelda’s nightclub in Palm Springs.

This also confirmed rapper YoungBoy’s influence on Olvera and Dusek affirmed certain lyrics as dictated by the prosecution.

Olvera has denied any involvement in the murders during his testimony last week, despite incriminating lyrics from the message described in Dusek’s testimony.

Dusek stated he was able to obtain John Olvera’s “finger and palm prints” at a local sheriff’s station in Nevada. He did not confirm whether or not the prints implicated Olvera in the murders.

Then, Dusek talked about his examinations of the Toyota Corolla, but offered no new details. He helped transport the vehicle to the court for the jury to see in-person.

However, Dusek noted there were notable differences in the way the Toyota Corolla was kept in the outdoor lot. He agreed with DDA Paixao that the desert climate made it easier for DNA evidence to be “eliminated” from the car.

He also noted there was a “a light as big as the seat that shouldn’t be there and a grill in the backseat.”

The evidence in the Toyota Corolla were “headlights, butcher paper, a black Volcom flip flop and a Bluetooth speaker box,” according to Dusek.

During cross-examination, the defense questioned Dusek’s testimony to the prosecution. Dolan delved deeper into the messaging between Olvera and Rivera, such as if there were more incriminating messages from Olvera’s account, but this was met with swift objections from DDA Paixao.

The defense persisted in asking questions pertaining to Olvera. One was of his relationship with Jacob Montgomery, one of the four victims.

Dolan was able to get Dusek to confirm the tension between Olvera and Montgomery, but did not go further how this could have been motive for murder.

This sparked a heated response from DDA Paixao, who called the defense questions “speculative and hearsay” and should not be considered as fact.

Dusek was excused but subject to recall.

The prosecution then called Chris Duthaler, a Palm Springs police officer who conducted a search of Larin-Garcia’s car two days after the murders while crime scene technician Julie Osburn photographed the car and any collected evidence.

Duthaler testified that he found a Ziploc bag containing bullet shell casings in Larin-Garcia’s car which were photographed by crime scene technician Osburn.

The defense has previously argued that this evidence was planted in order to frame Larin-Garcia, according to media reports. Officer Duthaler told both DDA Paixao and attorney Valente that he did not plant this evidence.

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About The Author

Jake is a senior at UC Berkeley studying English & Journalism.

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