A man whose death sentence was overturned for the robbery-related shootings of three Indio residents pleaded not guilty Wednesday to new charges stemming from an alleged assault that took place in Indio over the weekend.
Fred Lewis Weatherton, 70, is charged with felony assault, a misdemeanor count of battery, and two felony counts of making criminal threats. Details on the new case were slim, but county jail records indicate that Weatherton was arrested Sunday on Towne Street in Indio. He was being held on $1 million bail and will return to court Nov. 30 for a felony settlement conference.
Weatherton was previously convicted for the Nov. 1, 1998 killings of Samuel Ortiz and Latonya Roberson, as well as the attempted murder of Nelva Bell. The victims were shot at Ortiz’s Indio home, with prosecutors alleging Weatherton robbed them for drug money, then shot them.
Jurors convicted him in 2002 of two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, and special circumstance allegations of committing multiple murders and committing a murder in commission of a robbery. Jurors later recommended the death penalty.
However, those convictions were overturned by the California Supreme Court in 2014, which ruled that juror misconduct played a role in his conviction.
According to the court’s opinion, a juror referred to as “P.P.” told fellow panelists that he thought Weatherton was guilty before the trial was over, and talked about the case outside of deliberations, both of which are forbidden.
“He discussed the case during his daily commute, at lunch, during cigarette breaks, in court hallways, and in elevators … Multiple jurors testified that, long before the prosecution rested its case, P.P. conveyed a belief in defendant’s guilt. He also told jurors, both before and during deliberations, that defendant deserved the death penalty,” the court’s opinion states.
Weatherton received a pair of retrials in Riverside earlier this year, both of which resulted in deadlocked juries.
Another trial was slated for this year, but Weatherton pleaded guilty in March to two counts of voluntary manslaughter, one count of attempted murder and one count of robbery. He was sentenced to 23 years in state prison, but had already accumulated credit for time served for nearly the entire sentence.
During the robbery-related shootings, Weatherton, also known as “Boo-Boo,” allegedly kicked Ortiz’s door open and demanded money, according to the court’s opinion.
“Roberson swore she had none. Defendant replied, `(Expletive) I ain’t playing with you,’ and shot her in the forehead. Ortiz said, `Boo-Boo, you can have my money,’ saying his wallet was under the bed. Defendant retrieved the cash, then shot Ortiz in the head. Roberson was moaning; defendant shot her in the throat,” the opinion states.
Bell, who was holding Roberson’s son, pleaded with Weatherton not to shoot her, and she put the child down at Weatherton’s direction. He then shot Bell in the back and face, and she played dead, according to the narrative detailed in the opinion.
Bell survived and told another man and a police officer that “Boo-Boo” had shot them and did so “to rob us.” Shoe prints that resembled the shoes Weatherton was wearing were tracked from the home where the shootings occurred to an area near Ortiz’s home.
Bell later identified Weatherton as the shooter from a photographic lineup and “testified she remained `100 percent sure’ defendant had shot her and the others,” according to the court’s opinion.
The criminal complaint in Weatherton’s latest case also states that he has robbery convictions dating back to 1973 in Los Angeles and Riverside counties.