1 Percent Milk, Credibility of Defense Expert Witness Focus of Larin-Garcia Trial Tuesday

By Catherine Hamilton and Keana Fortier-Sauray

RIVERSIDE, CA – The long-running quadruple homicide trial of Jose Larin-Garcia reconvened Tuesday in Riverside County Superior Court with the prosecution questioning the credibility of the defense’s blood spatter expert witness and continued verbal jousting between the defense and prosecution.

Larin-Garcia is on trial for the murder of four people the night of Feb. 3, 2019.
The session began with a heated discussion between Deputy District Attorney Samantha Paixao and the defense, led by private attorney John Dolan, about email exchanges between defense expert witness Randolph Beasley and DDA Paixao.

DDA Paixao attempted to impeach the credibility of Beasley’s blood spatter interpretation due to the one percent milk and red dye experiment Beasley admitted, in an email, to DDA Paixao. He said used the milk and red dye for blood spatter replication of the shot at the mannequin head and the gun shots in the car.

Dolan argued that DDA Paixao’s independent research and email exchanges about the milk and red dye experiment are not evidence in the case. He assertively stated that Judge Villalobos should instruct the jury that this information should not be considered evidence “whatsoever.”

Dolan argued that the replication of the events was originally done with beef blood, and that the one percent milk and red dye experiment was consistent with the blood spatter pattern of the original test.

And Dolan stated that questioning the credibility of Beasley because of email exchanges with DDA Paixao would open the court to a discussion about whether or not the blood spatter patterns are consistent with each other.

“I ask the court to limit the (prosecution) to simply talking about his qualifications,” Dolan said. “And if it goes beyond that, we reserve the right to present the entire study—the one percent blood and also the beef blood that confirms that.”

Judge Villalobos said he has a “real concern” about the one percent blood and dye being used because it brings him to question Beasley’s reliability and opinion of his testimony because he failed to use what’s accepted in the community.

“When he [Beasley] says it’s the same thing as blood and none of these other specialists use it… it’s misleading,” argued Judge Villalobos.

The defense then revealed that the court ruled that the milk experiment was allowed to be introduced to the jury, but they were reluctant to bring it up.

The defense claimed that when DDA Paxiao mentioned it, “it rang a bell” but he still did not reveal any information to the judge or DDA Paxiao.

Paxiao became very upset when she found out that the defense already “backdoored the evidence.” DDA Paxiao stated the back and forth was a “complete waste of time” because the defense tried to “slip in the evidence anyways.”

“By no means was this meant to mislead the court,” said the defense, led by private attorney John Dolan.

However, Judge Villalobos was hesitant to believe the defense was above suspicion, noting, “I’m having difficulty believing anything you’re saying right now.”

In Judge Villalobos’ attempt to move things forward, he invited Beasley back into the courtroom, where the cross-examination between DDA Paxiao and Beasley began.

DDA Paixao brought in photos for Beasley to reference as his reenactment of blood spatter interpretation of the gunshots that occurred in the vehicle.

She questioned if it is possible that with the collision and multiple events that occurred within the vehicle, for the victims’ bodies to be moved, which would second-handedly affect Beasley’s ability to properly interpret the blood spatter. Beasley confirmed it is possible.

DDA Paixao continued to attack the credibility of Beasley’s prior statements and his prior recreations of the scene made in his testimony.

Beasley’s final statement before a break was that all experiments were conducted as a continuing effort to the court for blood spatter evidence, but everything that was testified in court was solely based on his professional opinion using science and his 30 years of experience as a blood spatter analyst.

After the lunch break, court began with redirect questioning from the defense of Beasley. They started by establishing that Beasley had looked at the evidence from the murders in Sept. 2021.

After the prosecution’s expert witness, Craig Ogino, testified about the blood splatters on Feb. 4, 2022, Beasley did a “reenactment” of the murders with milk as a blood substitute.

The importance of this reenactment was to show what the likely back spatter patterns would have been if Larin-Garcia, sitting in the back right passenger seat, were the murderer.

The defense’s main argument is that there was another person in the backseat of the Toyota Corolla, where three of the victims were murdered and where Larin-Garcia is confirmed to have been.

However, DDA Paixao often reiterates that there could not be another person in the back because of Larin-Garcia’s size at the time.

The defense showed the jury pictures from Beasley’s experiments, as well as the video of Beasley firing a 9 mm bullet into a Styrofoam head at a distance of about half an inch from the right cheek area.

The clothes, the box in the neighboring seat representing Jacob Montgomery, one of the victims, and Beasley’s face shield all had back spatter. The defense believes the patterns prove that Larin-Garcia was not the murderer because they are not consistent with the spatter on Larin-Garcia.

In DDA Paixao’s cross-examination, she heavily focused on the emails that Beasley had sent her depicting the experiment. He had used the milk as a blood substitute, but on Feb. 5, 2022, when sending the first message about the experiment, he had not said liquid blood in quotation marks as he had previously.

When asking him about the emails, DDA Paixao raised her voice and Judge Villalobos ordered the jury and Beasley to leave the room so that the defense could discuss DDA Paixao’s argumentativeness.

“I’m not saying she can’t do her job, but I’m just saying there’s a point where I believe it’s close to crossing the line,” Dolan said.

DDA Paixao refuted the statement by saying, “I’m a loud person, but I’m not yelling.”

She also brought up the fact that she wouldn’t be interrogating Beasley with this line of questioning so heavily if he wasn’t withholding the truth, as she believes.

Judge Villalobos overruled the objection that DDA Paixao was harassing Beasley because he wasn’t visibly “being traumatized.” DDA Paixao was also not slamming her fist or saying vulgar words.

The defense suggested withdrawing the evidence of the emails to avoid DDA Paixao’s extensive questioning. She responded with, “This is absolutely laughable.”

Judge Villalobos agreed that she needed to move on with her questioning, but that it was fair game because the defense had been the ones to bring up the emails.

Once the jury returned, Beasley confirmed that “it is not readily acceptable or recommended” to use one percent milk as a substitute for blood, as he had done.

DDA Paixao moved on to ask about the weight Beasley had used for Larin-Garcia in the experiment. Beasley used 250 pounds from a report given to him, but apparently Larin-Garcia weighed around 300 pounds at the time of the murders. DDA Paixao asserted that this meant the information in Beasley’s experiment would be incorrect.

However, Beasley said that he was not trying to represent 300 pounds behind the front passenger seat, but rather was testing the hypothesis put out by the defense that there was a third person in the back seat.

As Beasley brought the Styrofoam head used in the experiment to the courthouse, DDA Paixao asked for it to be brought in to see the representation of the “actual destruction of Jacob Montgomery.”

The defense then asked two final questions before Beasley was excused, though subject to recall. The first was if the back spatter observed in the Feb. 4 experiment was consistent with what Beasley would expect based on his training and experience. He said it was.

The second question was whether he had relied on the experiment to make any new opinions of what had happened the night of Feb. 3, 2019.

Beasley said that his only opinion for the best explanation of what had happened was that there were three people in the backseat of the Toyota Corolla and the shooter was in the middle seat, the spatters on Larin-Garcia’s jacket being consistent with him sitting in the right back seat, not the murderer’s seat.

Before the court adjourned for the day, the prosecution called back to the stand Craig Ogino, the prosecution’s expert witness, who said that he would never use milk as a substitute for blood because it has no red blood cells, no platelets, no plasma, and, most importantly in his opinion, does not coagulate when leaving the body.

The trial will reconvene Tuesday morning.

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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