Jury selection is slated to begin Wednesday for the murder trial of a Desert Hot Springs resident accused of killing a man to avenge a friend’s death.
Orlando Archuleta, 28, is charged with the March 29, 2017, shooting death of 23-year-old Cathedral City resident Jose Gabriel Madrigal Vargas. Prosecutors allege Archuleta believed Vargas was involved in the killing of a friend.
Vargas’ body was found two days after 21-year-old Freddy Morales of Cathedral City was found dead in the driveway of a home at 66219 Sixth St.
Vargas was found after officers received multiple calls of shots fired about 8:30 p.m. and followed a blood trail to a house in the 66100 block of Sixth Street, just a few houses down from where Morales’ body was found. Vargas was pronounced dead at the scene about a half-hour later.
Archuleta was hospitalized about an hour later for treatment of with gunshot wounds, according to a declaration in support of an arrest warrant. The prosecution’s trial brief states that when he was interviewed by officers, he initially said that he’d been shot at the River shopping center in Rancho Mirage, then later said he was shot by an unknown assailant after visiting a memorial erected in Morales’ memory.
He was arrested about a week later, after getting out of the hospital, on a parole violation and later charged with first-degree murder.
Police believe Archuleta and others confronted Vargas at the Sixth Street home and shot him, and another person inside the home fired back at Archuleta, causing the gunshot wounds that landed him in the hospital, according to the declaration.