Jury selection got underway Wednesday for the trial of a man accused of gunning down two young women in a car parked in west Riverside.
Daniel Garcia, 25, was arrested immediately after the 2018 attack that killed 21-year-old Gabriela Perez of Hemet and 20-year-old Miranda Duran of Riverside.
Garcia is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, with a special-circumstance allegation of taking multiple lives, as well as sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Diane Altamirano Wednesday morning ordered several panels of prospective jurors to the Riverside Hall of Justice for screening as to their availability and qualifications to serve. Additional panels are slated to be summoned to the courthouse Thursday. Opening statements in the trial are not expected until next week.
Garcia is being held without bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
According to Riverside police Officer Ryan Railsback, the two friends were shot just after midnight May 2, 2018, near the intersection of Alhambra and Cypress avenues, in the La Sierra Hills area.
Railsback said a woman called 911 stating that her brother had “just shot two people,” after which, patrol officers converged on the location and found the victims in a parked gray Volkswagen, suffering from gunshot wounds to the upper body. Both were pronounced dead at the scene — one in the driver’s seat, the other in the front passenger seat.
Officers immediately detained Garcia, who was found nearby, allegedly in possession of a .45-caliber handgun.
Prosecutors did not disclose a possible motive for the killings, and no details about why the defendant allegedly targeted the women emerged during his preliminary hearing last December.
The prosecution is expected to present theories during opening and closing statements.
Garcia has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County. Although the special-circumstance allegation makes him eligible for the death penalty if convicted, the District Attorney’s Office decided against pursuing capital punishment.
If convicted, Garcia faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.