A convicted felon who fatally stabbed a 43-year-old bicyclist during a confrontation in Menifee was sentenced Monday to 46 years to life in state prison.
A Murrieta jury in December found 50-year-old Ronny Joe Mitchell guilty of first-degree murder, with a sentence-enhancing weapon allegation, for the slaying of Moses Almarez.
Riverside County Superior Judge Mark Mandio imposed the sentence required by law.
According to the prosecution, the defendant did not know Almarez but became enraged after the victim made a caustic remark to the son of a co-worker, culminating in the Oct. 4, 2015, attack.
A trial brief filed by Deputy District Attorney Sean Crandell stated that Mitchell had parked in front of the home of his fellow construction worker, identified only as “Fred,” at the end of a workday. The defendant did not live anywhere near the property in the 25500 block of Third Street, which prompted Fred to become concerned when he spotted him outside.
According to the brief, Fred was heading out to investigate when Almarez rode by on his bike and made a snide comment to the man’s adult son, Fred Jr., and his friend, Jerry, who were working on a car in the driveway.
Jerry asked Almarez whether he wanted to say anything to his face, and the victim stopped as if to physically challenge the young man, according to the prosecution’s narrative.
Fred Sr. called his son and Jerry back to the house before a fight erupted, but Crandell said that Mitchell got out of his vehicle and approached Almarez, saying he would “save his life,” to which the victim replied, “You ain’t saving (expletive)!”
Mitchell then stabbed Almarez twice in the chest with a knife, penetrating more than five inches deep, puncturing the victim’s lungs. Before fleeing the scene in his car, the defendant turned to the witnesses and threatened to harm them if they revealed his identity, according to brief.
Almarez managed to stagger a short distance before collapsing in the street.
Sheriff’s detectives confirmed that Mitchell was the assailant within a week and began searching for him. He was arrested without incident at his girlfriend’s San Dimas residence on Oct. 29, 2015.
An autopsy revealed that Almarez had methamphetamine in his system when he died. Crandell said the victim did not know Fred or the others, so the reason for his hostility was never established.
According to court records, Mitchell had prior convictions for dealing cocaine, assault with a deadly weapon and robbery.
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