BARSTOW • A Barstow man who fled overseas before being charged with murder in the 2002 death of a Lenwood woman faced his first day in court on Monday after eight years of delays.
Lawrence Rivera, 39, is charged in the death of Kristina Garcia, whose body was found by detectives in the desert off of Yermo Cutoff Road May 22, 2002, seven days after she went missing.
Rivera bought a plane ticket using an alias and fled overseas to Amsterdam and later Germany before he could be arrested. He then flew to Australia where he remained until finally being extradited in 2008.
In his opening statements, Deputy District Attorney Sean Daugherty said fingerprints, DNA evidence, and statements from co-workers of Rivera and Garcia offer proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Rivera killed his Raytheon co-worker Garcia.
"DNA found in (Rivera's) vehicle was compared to DNA in Kristina's femur," said Daugherty. "The chance of that DNA being found in another Caucasian female is one in four quadrillion."
Rivera's attorney Jim Terrell said Rivera's innocence will be evident when Rivera takes the witness stand to defend himself, and only a minuscule amount of blood was found inside Rivera's car.
In Monday's testimony Garcia's parents as well as four Raytheon co-workers of Rivera and Garcia took the stand, all telling the jury about an uneasy relationship that the pair had.
Garcia's parents Linda and Clayton Ostergren said Rivera loaned Garcia money to help pay for a divorce from her husband, as a way of thanking her for putting in a good word for him at Raytheon where he was hired.
Clayton said his daughter told him Rivera was "spooking" her and watching her in different places after she said she only wanted to have a friendly relationship with him. In an e-mail Clayton warned his daughter of becoming involved with Rivera two days before she went missing.
Hal Raster, co-worker of Rivera, said Rivera did not show up for work on the day of Garcia's disappearance and that when he showed up for work two days later he appeared pale, distressed, and had scratches on his body.
Another co-worker, Dale Domek, testified about his visit to Garcia's apartment after she didn't show up to work where he found Garcia's baby alone in the unlocked apartment.
Testimony in the case is set to continue Tuesday afternoon. If convicted, Rivera could face 25 years to life in prison. Rivera's trial is expected to last through February.
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