A Jurupa Valley man accused of trying to help cover up the murder of a 40-year-old man allegedly killed by his cousin pleaded not guilty Friday to being an accessory after the fact.
Adrian Daniel Chaffino, 23, could face jail time and probation in connection with the May slaying of Michael Daniel Reynoso in Jurupa Valley.
Chaffino was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge David Gunn, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for Feb. 28 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
The defendant is free on a $5,000 bond.
The man he’s accused of aiding, 37-year-old August Nielsen III, recently was extradited from Arizona and pleaded not guilty to murder with sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations. He’s slated to appear with Chaffino at the hearing in February.
Nielsen was captured in Phoenix on Oct. 4 following a nationwide manhunt. He was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals and brought back to Riverside County on Nov. 1.
Nielsen is being held without bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
According to sheriff’s Sgt. Wally Clear, on the morning of May 8, a travel trailer was set aflame near the intersection of Clay Street and Van Buren Boulevard. Firefighters quickly doused the blaze and discovered Reynoso’s charred remains inside.
Confirming the victim’s identity took several months, but after detectives learned Reynoso was the person killed, they turned their attention to his cousin, Nielsen.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Nielsen allegedly shot the victim during an argument, possibly stemming from the defendant’s jealousy over a woman whom Reynoso was seeing, though the circumstances remain unclear.
Detectives found witnesses and evidence allegedly tying Nielsen to the killing. According to prosecutors, the defendant and Chaffino were friends, and the latter was allegedly recruited into assisting Nielsen with moving the body to where it was set aflame.
Chaffino was arrested without incident at his Rorimer Drive residence in August.
He has no documented prior felony or misdemeanor convictions in Riverside County. Nielsen has a prior misdemeanor conviction for making criminal threats, according to court records.
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