INDIO (CNS) - A man accused of fatally shooting four people in Palm Springs shaved his head, changed clothes and had a friend buy him a bus ticket to Florida under a false name the morning after the killings, a detective testified today.
Jose Larin-Garcia, 19, of Cathedral City, is accused of fatally shooting Jacob Montgomery, 19, Juan Duarte Raya, 18, and Yuliana Garcia, 17, who were found dead inside a Toyota Corolla that crashed into a parked Jeep at 11:40 p.m. Feb. 3 at Sunny Dunes and El Placer roads. He is also accused in the shooting death of 25-year-old Carlos Campos Rivera, who was found 30 minutes later on Canon Drive south of Theresa Drive, about a half-mile away from the other three victims.
During testimony last week in a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for Larin-Garcia to stand trial on murder charges, police said he was found the night of the killings hiding under a pickup truck just blocks from one of the shooting scenes, and was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center for treatment of various abrasions.
In court Monday, Detective Steve Grissom said that after Larin-Garcia left the hospital, he showed up at a friend's house around 4:30 a.m. Feb. 4.
Larin-Garcia told the friend he ``messed up'' and was involved in a traffic collision, Grissom said. About two hours later, the friend went to Larin-Garcia's mother's home to retrieve fresh clothing and identification from a wallet. Later in the day, the friend also bought bandages for Larin-Garcia, and a Greyhound bus ticket to Florida under the name ``Joseph Browning,'' Grissom testified.
``He knew that Mr. Garcia was trying to get away with regards to the traffic collision,'' Grissom said. ``So he bought him a ticket under a false name.''
At some point that day, Larin-Garcia shaved his head to change his appearance, then the friend drove him to the Greyhound bus station in Indio, where he was eventually arrested, Grissom testified.
Palm Springs police Detective Edman Escallada confirmed that Larin- Garcia called his mother after his arrest, claiming he was innocent of the crimes and needed a lawyer ``to seek his options.'' The mother then asked why he was running from law enforcement if he was innocent, to which Larin-Garcia responded he was intoxicated, scared and an idiot, Escallada said.
Defense attorney John Patrick Dolan has insisted his client did not carry out the killings. He said Larin-Garcia knew Montgomery, but he could not confirm any relationships with any of the other victims. The defense attorney told KESQ last week that Larin-Garcia had been in the Corolla with the three victims.
Larin-Garcia is facing four counts of murder, along with a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, opening him to a possible death sentence. He is being held without bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta.
The preliminary hearing is scheduled to resume Thursday.