BARSTOW A jury has been selected Tuesday in the trial of a Barstow man who fled the country in 2002 to avoid charges in the killing of a 26-year-old Lenwood woman. Testimony is expected to begin Jan. 3.

Judge Cheryl Kersey screened about 47 potential jurors in the case of Lawrence Rivera, 39, who is charged with killing his co-worker Kristine Garcia in 2002. The trial is expected to last until Feb. 25.

Garcia was reported missing by her co-workers at Raytheon, a civilian contractor at Fort Irwin, after she failed to show up for work May 15, 2002. Her body was found near the Yermo Cutoff on May 22, 2002.

Before he could be arrested Rivera fled to Amsterdam, Germany and finally to Australia. He was extradited after five years and multiple appeals when prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty. Rivera returned to the United States and was arraigned in January 2008.

Rivera went through three attorneys all of whom he is currently suing in civil court for miscellaneous complaints before deciding to defend himself in 2009. Rivera requested counsel at his preliminary hearing on April 1, 2010 and was denied. Since then a judge found sufficient evidence for Rivera to stand trial.

Since then, Rivera has filed a motion of prejudice against Kersey, which was denied, and accepted counsel from a private attorney contracted by the county to handle the case.
Rivera remains at the West Valley Detention Center on $1 million bail.

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(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com