Murder charges were filed Wednesday against a man accused of killing a man found dead in a Palm Springs hotel bathtub over the weekend.
Rogelio Cruz Maciel, 36, of Palm Desert pleaded not guilty to all counts Wednesday afternoon and is due back in court Sept. 20 for a felony settlement conference.
He was arrested around 4:45 p.m. Sunday in the 73800 block of San Nicholas Avenue in Palm Desert and booked on suspicion of murder.
The victim, identified by family members as Jason Banks, was found dead around noon Saturday in a bathtub at the Musicland Hotel, 1342 S. Palm Canyon Drive. His cause of death has not been revealed by police, but a criminal complaint alleges that Maciel used a knife in the killing.
Court documents allege that the killing took place three days before Banks’ body was discovered.
Maciel’s relationship, if any, to the victim was unknown, and police said they were still working to uncover a motive for the killing.
Officers were called to check on the man after he failed to check out of the hotel at the required time, according to the Palm Springs Police Department.
“The death appeared to be suspicious, which resulted in the response of the PSPD Detective Unit. The initial investigation revealed the death was a homicide,” according to a PSPD statement.
Police said “several leads” led them to arrest Maciel, who “has an extensive criminal history involving violent crimes and narcotic sales.”
Riverside County court records show he has prior felony convictions for grand theft auto, being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of controlled substances and receiving stolen property. He also has a misdemeanor elder abuse conviction for taking his mother’s cell phone to keep her from calling police last April, then placing her in a bear hug in which she was “squeezed to the point that she had a hard time breathing,” court documents state.
The woman told police that she was “unable to sleep” the following night “because she did not know what Maciel was going to do,” according to court documents.
Maciel is being held on $1,020,000 bail.
Banks’ family has since created a GoFundMe page to raise funeral costs.
“Jason was loved by many. He had an old soul and cared for everyone he held close to his heart,” the page reads. “He had a smile that could warm you for days. His way of passing is yet to be determined, but one thing is for sure, it was not his time. He was sadly found in a Palm Springs hotel room. A passing that no one could ever wish on a loved one.”
Those who wish to contribute to Banks’ family may do so at www.gofundme.com/peace-for-jason.
Anyone with information regarding the death was urged to contact the Palm Springs Police Department at (760) 778-8411, or Crime Stoppers at (760) 341-7867 to make an anonymous tip.
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