A white supremacist gang member who fatally shot his 35-year-old friend in East Hemet because the victim failed to pay drug-related debts was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“This crime involved great violence, callousness and cruelty,” Riverside County Superior Court Judge Michael Donner said before imposing sentence on Noy Estel Boukes. “It was an execution … carried out on a dead-end street, in the dead of night.”
A Riverside jury last week deliberated one day before finding Boukes, 31, guilty of first-degree murder, as well a special circumstance allegation of killing for the benefit of a criminal street gang, with sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations, for the 2016 slaying of Jason Popovich of Beaumont.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Boukes is a ranking member of the Coors Skins, a documented supremacist gang that operates in the Hemet Valley.
He and Popovich had been friends for years, but by July 2016, the defendant and his associates had become disillusioned with the victim because he had not satisfied drug debts owed the gang, Deputy District Attorney Marcus Garrett wrote in a trial brief.
He said that Boukes was given orders to eliminate Popovich, and the defendant complied, possibly because he wanted to elevate himself in the eyes of the Aryan Brotherhood.
On the night of July 19, the 6 feet 5 inch ex-con was with his girlfriend, identified in court documents only as “A.T.,” when he encountered Popovich and his girlfriend, identified only as “H.R.,” and offered to give the pair a lift, according to the prosecution.
Boukes stopped at a convenience store, then drove to the south end of Araucana Street, near Bantam Way, where he told his passengers that he needed to stop by a house and retrieve something, Garrett said.
The prosecutor alleged Boukes asked Popovich to join him, and within seconds of the victim exiting the Toyota Corolla, the defendant opened fire with a .357 revolver, shooting Popovich in the spinal column and the side of the head, killing him instantly with the second shot.
H.R. screamed frantically and tried to run to her slain boyfriend’s aid, but Boukes shoved her back into the Toyota and sped away, according to the brief.
He drove to a male acquaintance’s residence to hide the handgun and pondered whether to kill both H.R. and A.T. because they had witnessed the shooting, and he wanted to silence them. But Boukes’ acquaintance talked him out of executing the women, who stayed behind as the defendant left the property, according to Garrett.
The man, whose identity was not released, went to the Hemet sheriff’s station the following day and surrendered the firearm, then gave a statement regarding what he knew, at which point the two women were located and questioned, culminating in an arrest warrant being issued for Boukes.
The probationer was arrested without a struggle when he appeared at the sheriff’s station, where detectives had summoned him for an interview.
According to court records, he has prior convictions for auto theft, burglary and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
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