An Inglewood man who allegedly shot a transgender woman during a robbery in South Los Angeles pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder and other charges involving an 11-year-old girl who he’s accused of forcing into prostitution.
Robert James Spells, 30, is charged in the Dec. 3 killing of 21-year-old Deshawnda Sanchez in the 6100 block of South Wilton Place in the Chesterfield Square area.
The murder charge includes the special circumstance allegation of murder during the course of a robbery, along with an allegation that Spells personally discharged a handgun.
Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to seek the death penalty against Spells, who is also charged with robbing Sanchez.
Spells is additionally charged with one count each of human trafficking of a minor for a sex act, forcible lewd act upon a child and lewd act upon a child and two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child The criminal complaint alleges that those crimes occurred between Feb. 7 and Feb. 16.
Spells was arrested last week at a relative’s home in Los Angeles in connection with Sanchez’s killing after being identified as a suspect by detectives, according to Los Angeles police.
Sanchez had called for assistance around 4 a.m. Dec. 3, saying she had been assaulted and robbed. While on the phone, she said the suspect had returned, and shots were then heard. Sanchez died at the scene.
The Operation South Bureau Trafficking Task Force identified Spells as a suspect in alleged human trafficking involving the 11-year-old girl, police said.
Spells is due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom April 6, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require him to stand trial.
— City News Service