Prosecution’s Expert Ogino Retakes Stand to Counter Defense Expert in Larin-Garcia Murder Trial

By Ozzy Hernandez and Veronica Miller

INDIO, CA – It was yet another day Wednesday here in Riverside County Superior Court in the expert-dominated and ongoing quadruple murder trial of Jose Larin-Garcia with detailed testimony from Craig Ogino, the prosecution’s blood spatter analyst.

Ogino took the stand once again in the prosecution’s attempt to poke holes in the credibility of the defense’s expert witness, Donald Beasley, who testified yesterday.

Larin-Garcia is on trial for the murder of four people the night of Feb. 3, 2019.
Before the trial got underway, Deputy District Attorney Samantha Paixao signaled the prosecution may rest its case soon. However, she also expressed misgivings about bringing back the same expert witnesses to rebut each other’s testimony.

It is possible that Beasley may take the stand once again, who testified yesterday at the defense’s request and reconstructed the scene of crime in an attempt to cause doubt among the jury.

The defense is betting Beasley’s testimony will be compelling enough to convince the jury there were three people in the back of the Toyota, not two, thus exonerating Larin-Garcia.

The prosecution says this is not possible, and only two people could fit in that vehicle given the suspect’s larger stature.

Ogino first testified Feb. 2 and articulated his expertise on blood spatter analysis to the jury. He is also a professor of criminology at UC Riverside.

DDA Paixao presented Ogino with an image (5B) of a blood stain and recalled Beasley’s testimony about how one can determine the origin and directionality of that blood stain.

“You never interpret on one blood stain,” said Ogino, adding, “The class I teach is Bloodstain Pattern Interpretation” with an emphasis on the word “pattern.”

Ogino called Beasley’s findings “speculative” in regard to the blood stain found on the red Jeep that crashed with the Toyota.

DDA Paixao asked Ogino if there is any scientific basis to Beasley’s findings, since he said the blood stain found on the red Jeep was “possibly” Juan Duarte’s, one of the slain victims.

“No,” said Ogino. He suggested that using the word “possibly” in a report leads the jury to believing the report as fact and any professional should refrain from using the word.

Ogino denied when asked if it was possible to recreate the sequence given the forensic evidence.

“It is rare,” he said to the district attorney.

He also denied it is scientifically unacceptable to use one percent milk and red dye as substitute for blood in experiments. Ogino said “any blood” is acceptable as a substitute in blood spatter experiments.

DDA Paixao’s last question to Ogino was, “How many people were in the backseat of the Toyota Corolla?” Ogino said “two,” directly contradicting the claims of the defense and its expert witness.

The basis for two people in the backseat is the “high energy splatter” found on Jacob Montgomery’s jacket, Ogino explained, noting that if a third person was present, the trajectory of the blood spatter would be different.

Private Defense Attorney John Dolan began cross-examination.

Dolan attempted to discredit Ogino’s testimony and showed some exhibits of his own. He even attempted to impeach the expert witness and motioned a 352 (Evidence Code section 352) to exclude his testimony, but that was denied by Judge Anthony Villalobos.

Defense Attorney John Dolan questioned Ogino about the resources and knowledge that he has on back spatter.

Ogino stated that he as a criminologist has gained experience through suicide cases. What the criminologists do is, once they have the enter and exit locations of the bullet, they can then relate it back to the back spatter.

Ogino stated that there are too many factors such as hair, baseball cap, jackets, number of shots that he cannot make a judgment on the location the shots would have been fired from.

Dolan proceeded to question Ogino on the experiment that Beasley did with the one percent milk and dye that the prosecution highly criticized.

Ogino stated that the researchers in which Beasley had gotten the idea from are credible sources, though Ogino has never tested with the milk himself.

Ogino did confirm that milk does not coagulate the same as real blood, therefore would not be a good substitute in this experiment.

DDA Paixao questioned Ogino on where the suspect would have been in the backseat. Ogino had run tests on a jacket found at the crime scene that belonged to Larin-Garcia

Ogino also stated that testing all the stains on Larin-Garcia’s jacket found at the crime scene would not have been sufficient, noting, “As a crime lab director I have limited resources. I have limited DNA analysts,” admitting he did not test all the blood stains on the jacket.

Ogino stated the shooter would need to be in the middle seat for there to be blood from the victims on the jacket. The witness based this on the size and location of the stains on the jacket.

Closing statements are scheduled Feb. 22 in the trial.

About The Author

Ozzy is a fifth year college student double majoring in Political Science and Performing Arts at CSU Channel Islands. He plans on attending law school and become an attorney. On his free time, he loves to indulge in the theater and embark on outdoor adventures

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