A jury was seated Friday for the trial of a Hemet man accused of robbing multiple fast-food restaurants in Hemet and San Jacinto.
After two days of jury selection, Superior Court Judge W. Charles Morgan selected a panel to hear evidence in what’s expected to be a weeklong trial at the Banning Justice Center for Melvin Raymond Means, who was arrested in August 2015 after he allegedly fled to Las Vegas to elude Riverside County sheriff’s investigators.
Opening statements are slated to get underway Monday morning. The 30-year-old defendant is charged with six counts of armed robbery, two counts each of attempted robbery and kidnapping to commit robbery, as well as several sentence-enhancing allegations of using a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Means allegedly 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.
He allegedly confronted male and female employees at each location while brandishing a handgun and demanding all cash on hand. In a few instances, he allegedly held his pistol on the victims while grabbing the money himself, behind the counter, according to court documents.
None of the victims were injured.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Robert 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. Duckett alleged that 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. No one was hurt, and Means fled on foot, successfully evading deputies, the sergeant 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.
Means is being held in lieu of $3.3 million at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta.