A 24-year-old man accused of gunning down a motorist, whose car came to a stop after crashing into a retaining wall in Moreno Valley, made his initial court appearance Monday on murder and other charges.
Jayvonte Johnell Wilkinson, who’s being held without bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, was arrested a day after the shooting death of 23-year-old Jared Lewis of Moreno Valley, who was killed last Tuesday night.
Along with murder, Wilkinson is charged with shooting at an occupied vehicle, illegal possession of a firearm and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.
The defendant appeared before Riverside County Superior Court Judge O.G. Magno, who appointed him a public defender and scheduled his arraignment for an as yet unspecified date at the Riverside Hall of Justice, which court clerks were expected to publish Monday afternoon.
According to sheriff’s Sgt. Ben Ramirez, deputies were alerted to a possible moving gunfight about 9 p.m. last Tuesday in the area of Heacock Avenue and Sunnymead Ranch Parkway. Witnesses stated that shots were fired at two different locations along Sunnymead Ranch in quick succession, the sergeant said.
Within minutes of the first “shots fired” call, patrol deputies stopped a motorist — later identified as Wilkinson — allegedly spotted fleeing the scene in his car, Ramirez said. The defendant was detained for questioning.
Ramirez said moments later, the victim’s Dodge Charger slammed into a retaining wall at Sunnymead Ranch and Hyacinth Lane. Deputies found Lewis unconscious with multiple gunshots to the upper body, according to the sergeant.
Lewis was taken to Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley, where he died a short time later.
After questioning Wilkinson for several hours, detectives booked him into jail for the alleged attack, a possible motive for which was not disclosed.
The defendant has no documented prior felony convictions. However, he has several unresolved misdemeanor cases pending in Riverside County Superior Court — one for alleged abuse of a domestic partner, and the other for driving on a suspended license.
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