BARSTOW • Attorneys have concluded their presentations of evidence in the case of a Lawrence Rivera, a Barstow man facing a murder trial for the 2002 death of his Raytheon co-worker Kristine Garcia, 26.
The prosecution continued to bring forth evidence on Wednesday refuting Rivera's testimony of being beaten by Sheriff's Deputies. Rivera said the beating — as well as a fight with a coworker — caused scratch marks on his body noted by investigators as evidence of a fatal struggle with Garcia.
Garcia's unburied body was found in open desert off of Yermo Cutoff Road May 22, 2002 — six days after her disappearance. Rivera, who had a brief relationship with Garcia, fled overseas to England, Germany, the Netherlands, and eventually Australia before he could be arrested and was eventually extradited in 2008 after years of appeals.
The cause of Garcia's death was never definitively determined, although authorities believe she was likely asphyxiated.
A sheriff's deputy who Rivera claimed beat him took the stand today, saying Rivera was never driven out into the desert, threatened, and beaten as Rivera claimed.
Michael Fermin — the previous district attorney who first handled the Rivera case — also took the stand Wednesday and verified that documents related to Rivera's extradition from Australia were indeed written by Rivera.
While on the witness stand, Rivera said he "did not recognize or acknowledge" the document, in which he wrote he did not acknowledge American law or authority. During his cross-exmaination, Deputy District Attorney Sean Daugherty said Rivera's entire testimony is suspect due to a lack of respect of American law.
Fermin also said The 270-page extradition document contained no mention of the alleged beating by deputies or Garcia cutting herself on a box and dripping blood in Rivera's car.
In response to Rivera's claim that quotes read to him contradicting his testimony were "sound bites" taken out of context, Daugherty played the entire 45-minute audio tape made by deputies questioning Rivera at his May Lane apartment. In the tape, Rivera makes no mention of a beating and said "he could respect" treatment by deputies during an earlier traffic stop on Main Street.
Before he rested his case, Rivera's attorney Jim Terrell called DNA expert Blaine Kern to the stand, who said DNA not matching Garcia or Rivera was found on some items near Garcia's body. However, Kern said he did not test the items for Garcia's husband's or daughter's DNA, and they could not be ruled out.
Rivera's case — originally expected to last until Feb. 25 — is moving much faster than anticipated, with 19 witnesses taking the stand in the first three days of testimony.
Attorneys are expected to make closing arguments at 9 a.m. Monday morning. If convicted, Rivera could face 25 years to life in prison.
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