Attorneys, Continue to Discuss Penalty Phase of Larin Garcia Quadruple Homicide Trial as Jury Continues Deliberation

By Catherine Hamilton and Brinda Kalita

INDIO, CA- The quadruple homicide trial for Larin Garcia proceeded Tuesday in the Larson Justice Center/Riverside County Superior Court, with the jury still out deliberating as it has been since last week.

In the morning, Judge Villalobos, Deputy District Attorney Samantha Paixao, and defense attorneys John Dolan and Anthony Velante continued to discuss the inclusion of the following incidents for the jury to use in order to determine a sentence for Larin-Garcia, if he is found guilty.

The first incident that was discussed was an incident in July 2018, in which Larin-Garcia was driving under the influence and assaulted an officer.

Attorney Dolan argued that this incident should not be added to the record because the officer never filed a complaint for assault.

Judge Villalobos took Attorney Dolan’s argument into mind and reworded the incident’s description in the record to state that the assault was only alleged, while the DUI had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The second discussed incident was the alleged robbery that occurred at an In-N-Out Burger in Thousand Palms in January 2019.

Attorney Dolan attempted to argue that the witness of the robbery was unreliable in detailing what Larin-Garcia’s role in the robberies were, other than giving a gun to an individual to carry out the robbery.

DDA Paixao countered Attorney Dolan’s claim that the witness was unreliable by citing one of the quotes from the witness’s testimony.

“Individuals were so scared that they gave everything…this means that the witness saw everything” she argued.

DDA Paixao also added that the defense could argue about the incidents unreliability to the jury as well.

Judge Villalobos agreed with DDA Paixao, and allowed for the robbery to stay in the record.

The third incident that was discussed was an alleged battery incident by Larin Garcia against an officer that occurred on Jan. 20, 2020.

However, the only changes made to the description of the incident was the retitling of the officer from a peace officer to a correctional deputy in the record.

The fourth incident that was discussed that occurred on March 20,2 020, in which razor blades were found in Larin-Garcia’s possession while he was in custody.

Attorney Dolan argued that Larin-Garcia had never actually used the razor blades against anyone, so there was no need to classify this incident as a crime or include it in the record.

However, Judge Villalobos ruled that because they found the razors not in their empty plastic cases, it can be argued that Larin-Garcia did intend to use them as weapons.

For that reason, he left the incident in the record.

He also added that the prosecution will need to prove that it was a weapon to the jury.

After the lunch break, Judge Villabolos addressed the objections the defense had to an allegation of domestic violence brought against Larin-Garcia. His ex-girlfriend said, after she had been looking in his room, Larin-Garcia held a handgun to her head.

The defense claimed the evidence should be filed as threatening with a deadly weapon, not assault with a deadly weapon, because no one could prove the gun was loaded. They argued DDA Paixao needed to prove circumstantial evidence to claim that the gun was loaded.

However, Judge Villabolos believed that there was plenty of circumstantial evidence against Larin-Garcia.

According to the ex-girlfriend, the first time she met him, Larin-Garcia had a gun on his person. He also had live rounds in his room, seen in pictures shown to the jury during the trial, and had sent his ex-girlfriend videos of him shooting.

The defense argued that Larin-Garcia was only mad that she was in his stuff and was trying to convey to her that she shouldn’t do that again. He did not say anything along the lines of “I’m going to kill you.”

However, though he’ll examine the evidence again, Judge Villabolos ruled that, if the trial went into the penalty phase, the allegation would be allowed. He said that there is no evidence that the gun was loaded, but there is also no evidence it was not.

The trial will reconvene March 2 with more jury deliberations and further discussion of the instructions for a possible penalty phase.

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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