Jurors in the trial of a Cathedral City man accused of gunning down four people in Palm Springs almost precisely four years ago reached a swift decision Monday, returning guilty verdicts after only a few hours of deliberation.
Driving the news: Jose Vladimir Larin-Garcia, 23, was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder for the Feb. 3, 2019, deaths of Jacob Montgomery, 19; Juan Duarte Raya, 18; Yuliana Garcia, 17; and Carlos Campos Rivera, 25.
- It was the second attempt to convict Larin-Garcia. Jurors in his first trial last March deliberated over seven days but could not reach a verdict.
- The new jury was sworn in for the retrial in Indio last September. On Monday, they began deliberating in the morning and reached a verdict before lunch.
Looking back: Prosecutors said Larin-Garcia was sitting in a stopped car with Montgomery, Raya, and Garcia on the night of the killings and first fatally shot Rivera, leaning against the stopped vehicle.
- Those three were found in a green Toyota Corolla that crashed at Sunny Dunes and El Placer roads at about 11:40 p.m. The fourth victim — Rivera – was found on a street about a half-mile away.
- Larin-Garcia was found by Palm Springs police hiding under a vehicle just blocks from the scene of the Corolla crash. He was taken to a local hospital, but left. The following day he was arrested at a bus station in Indio. Prosecutors said he had shaved his head to change his appearance.
Defense attorney John Dolan unsuccessfully tried to point blame for the killing on a 15-year-old male, saying he made incriminating statements and social media posts that amounted to a confession to the killings.
- Dolan claimed that it was that person in the car’s back seat and that Larin-Garcia jumped out of the moving vehicle to escape the gunfire.
Next steps: The penalty phase of the trial starts Wednesday. Jurors will recommend whether Larin-Garcia should face the death penalty or life in prison without parole.