Jury selection is scheduled to begin Thursday for the trial of a Hemet man accused of robbing multiple fast-food restaurants in Hemet and San Jacinto.
Melvin Raymond Means, 30, was arrested in August 2015 after he allegedly fled to Las Vegas to elude Riverside County sheriff’s investigators.
Means, who is being held in lieu of $3.3 millionbail at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta, is charged with six counts of armed robbery, two counts each of attempted robbery and kidnapping to commit robbery, as well as sentence-enhancing allegations of using a firearm in the commission of a felony.
On Wednesday, Riverside County Superior Court Judge W. Charles Morgan ruled on witness lists provided by the prosecution, as well as scheduling motions and proposed exhibits, clearing the way for jury selection to to begin Thursday morning at the Banning Justice Center.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Duckett has alleged that Means targeted fast-food franchises in East Hemet, Hemet and San Jacinto. At least a half-dozen locations were robbed between September 2014 and January 2015. No injuries were reported.
The defendant allegedly confronted male and female employees at each location, brandishing a handgun and demanding all cash on hand. In a few instances, he held his pistol on the victims while grabbing the money himself, behind the counter, court documents allege.
Duckett said detectives relied on security surveillance videotape, fingerprint evidence and eyewitness descriptions to ultimately identify Means as the alleged perpetrator.
In early January 2015, the bandit allegedly held up a Del Taco at 41871 Florida Ave. in East Hemet, and a 911 call went out while the robbery was in progress, according to the sergeant.
A deputy encountered Means a short distance from the eatery and tried to detain him, firing a shot when the defendant motioned with his gun, Duckett alleged.
Means fled on foot, successfully evading deputies, Duckett said.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers arrested the defendant seven months later after he wandered naked down a street, allegedly waving a pistol in the air.
Court records show that Means has prior misdemeanor convictions for presenting false identification to a peace officer and possession of illegal drugs.