A probationer and a convicted felon accused of killing a 65-year-old Moreno Valley man with a machete over unpaid drug debts must stand trial for murder, a judge ruled Friday.
Victor Mendoza, 30, and Dillon Clifford Hardy, 23, allegedly killed Larry Valverde in May 2018.
Following a preliminary hearing at the Riverside Hall of Justice, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Larrie Brainard found there was sufficient evidence to warrant a trial for each defendant on the murder count, as well as a sentence-enhancing allegation of perpetrating a kidnapping.
Brainard scheduled a post-preliminary hearing arraignment for July 15. Each man is being held in lieu of $5 million bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
According to sheriff’s Sgt. Ben Ramirez, Hardy and Mendoza allegedly killed Valverde at a residence in the 23700 block of Sunnymead Boulevard during the early morning hours of May 20, 2018.
Prosecutors allege that the victim was behind on payments for narcotics, and the defendants were incensed. During a meeting between Valverde, Hardy and Mendoza, the victim was attacked with a machete, receiving blows to his back and neck, resulting in a partial decapitation, according to the prosecution.
Ramirez said deputies initiated an investigation based on a missing persons report filed by Valverde’s loved ones, culminating in the discovery of the crime scene at the Sunnymead residence.
Mendoza was immediately detained for questioning and arrested without incident the same day. Hardy was identified as his alleged cohort several days later and was taken into custody without a struggle.
Ramirez said Valverde’s remains were found in an overgrown field in the 23100 block of Sunnymead.
According to court records, Mendoza has a misdemeanor conviction for domestic abuse and was sentenced in 2017 to three years probation. Hardy has priors for attempted grand theft and petty theft, records showed.
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