The man that a lawyer for Jose Vladamir Larin-Garcia — who is charged with murder in a 2019 quadruple homicide in Palm Springs — had previously suggested was seen leaving the vehicle where three dead people were found testified he was not involved in the killings, and lied in social media posts about his involvement to bolster his street image.
Larin-Garcia is on trial for the slayings of Yuliana Garcia, 17; Juan Duarte Raya, 18; Jacob Montgomery, 19; and Carlos Campos Rivera, 25. Rivera was found fatally shot on Canon Drive just before midnight on Feb. 3, 2019. The other three were found dead inside of a Toyota Corolla that had crashed in front of a residence on East Sunny Dunes Road.
The trial of Jose Larin-Garcia, who is charged with murder in a 2019 quadruple homicide in Palm Springs, continued Monday with testimony from a man that the defense previously suggested was seen leaving the vehicle where three of the victims were found.
John Olvera, 18, denied involvement and said he lied in social media posts. He testified on Monday that he had been involved in fights with one of the homicide victims found in the car, Montgomery, on two occasions beginning in January of 2019.
The first came while riding the bus home from a street fair in Palm Springs.
That fight began after a group of people, including Montgomery, got onto the bus that Olvera and a friend were riding on and the group asked who had problems with another member of their group, who was also named Jacob.
"I was like 'I do, I want to fight," Olvera said. "So we hopped off the bus and started fighting. Then I hopped on the bus before it left and caught my ride home."
Olvera then testified that the group, which again included Montgomery, tried to "jump him" again a couple weeks later. That time, Olvera said his friend "pulled a knife" in response and Montgomery then went into a nearby Rite-Aid and stayed there.
When asked by the prosecution why Montgomery's group kept wanting to fight Olvera, Olvera said that internet interactions between the two stoked a pre-existing conflict.
"We would both egg each other on and nag at each other," he said. "We were both like enemies kind of, but not really enemies, we just like to nag at each other, me and Jacob Montgomery.
When the prosecutor later asked if Olvera liked Montgomery, he said that "[Montgomery] wasn't my cup of my tea but we could sit around and not fight." However, Olvera said he had a bigger problem with the other Jacob.
Olvera said that he did not see Montgomery again after that second incident and had not heard of the other three people besides Montgomery who were killed in the quadruple homicide until learning of the homicide from news reports.
'I'm a wannabe gangster'
Much of the rest of the prosecutor's questioning of Olvera focused on public Facebook posts and private messages that the defense has suggested show him taking credit for the killings. However, Olvera repeatedly responded that those posts and messages were examples of him trying to live up to a false street image and that he had not been involved in the murders.
"I'm a wannabe gangster," he said. "I'm watered down, I'm all of that. I'm a wangster, I act a lot but I ain't about it."
A wangster is a slang term meaning "a wannabe gangster."
When asked if he had killed any of the four victims, Olvera said he had not. When asked about the posts, Olvera said he was "fronting for social media."
"I ain't living like that...," he said. "I might say something but I ain't living my raps. I am a wanna-be rapper. I didn't kill nobody, I haven't killed nobody in my whole life."
Olvera also clarified that some of the posts were lyrics from the rapper YoungBoy Never Broke Again, who often raps about violence, criminality and other street life-related themes and who Olvera said he was was obsessed with and idolized.
He added that he had made statements about stabbing and shooting people multiple times that were false and had also told women other false information about himself, including that he was older than he was, to impress them.
He said he also lied to a girl he liked about having recently been released from jail.
The prosecution also questioned Olvera about his relationship with Larin-Garcia. Olvera said he went to school with Larin-Garcia until Olvera dropped out of school at around age 15, although Olvera said Larin-Garcia was frequently not in school during that time because of regular suspensions.
Olvera said that he had hung out and had a sexual encounter with "a girl" who had also been involved with Larin-Garcia when he was "15 or younger." However, when he later learned from Larin- Garcia he was in a relationship with her, Olvera did not talk to her anymore because he did not want to have a problem with Larin-Garcia.
However, he and someone he thought may have been Larin-Garcia got into a confrontation near the Windmill Market in north Palm Springs, he said. Olvera said he initially acted aggressively, but ran away when Larin-Garcia pulled out a pistol.
He said he also dropped his cell phone while running away and has not had it since and suggested that anything posted to his social media after that had not been posted by him.
Olvera said the person looked "exactly like [Larin-Garcia] but a little bigger and fatter" which is why he was unsure if it was Larin-Garcia. After being questioned by the prosecuting attorney, he said that he thought he may have told the investigator that confrontation happened two weeks before the homicides but that it actually happened two months before.
Olvera said he did not see Larin-Garcia again after that.
Defense suggests Olvera perjured himself
During cross-examination, the defense played recordings and showed social media posts and messages made on Olvera's accounts that attorneys repeatedly suggested represented confessions for the murder.
Olvera responded either by stating each time that either he did not personally make the statements — which he said could've been made by someone else using his phone — or that they were lyrics to YoungBoy songs that he was not posting or sending in reference to the murders.
When asked by the prosecution during redirect if he had been "fronting" when he appeared to have posted in a message that he had been responsible for a murder at Zelda's nightclub, Olvera again said he had been.
"Yeah, because who would snitch on they self?" he said. "Come on now. Why I would want to go to jail, why would I put that out there for the world to know?"
The prosecution also asked Olvera if he killed every single person in the car except for [Larin-Garcia]. When he again denied doing so, the prosecution asked about [Larin-Garcia] and why he had not wanted to say for sure if that had been the person who had pulled the pistol during the fight.
"Because I didn't want to snitch," he said. "I ain't going to take the stand and I don't want to ride upon nobody and I don't wish jail upon nobody."
But when the defense asked if Olvera had just admitted that he had lied about not knowing Larin-Garcia, Olvera responded "I didn't admit nothing. Come on now, you can't break me, dog."
The defense then asked if Olvera had been "keeping it real" when he said that he had been in a confrontation with Montgomery two months before the murder when he had previously told a police investigator that confrontation had happened two weeks before.
"Yeah," Olvera responded. "I kept it real and I keep it real now.... You can't break me dog, you can't even try to because it isn't going to work because I keep it real. You can't break a real one. The real ones sit behind the cell."
Olvera also denied making up the story about losing his phone in the fight with Larin-Garcia. The day ended with Olvera being dismissed from the stand, although the judge said he could be recalled to testify further later in the trial.
*Correction: A previous version of this article misstated who was dismissed from the stand after testifying. It was Olvera.
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Man who took credit quadruple homicides in Palm Springs says he was faking