A Thermal man accused of killing a 20-year-old Mecca resident because he was gay was declared mentally incompetent Thursday and will not stand trial on his charges.
Miguel Angel Ramirez, 31, was accused of fatally shooting Juan Ceballos in 2014.
Following Thursday’s ruling at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, a July 24 court date was set when it will be decided which mental hospital Ramirez is transferred to. He remains jailed without bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
Riverside County sheriff’s deputies were called to the 65-000 block of Dale Kiler Road in Mecca shortly before midnight on July 13, 2014, and found Ceballos with several gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The criminal complaint filed by prosecutors alleges that Ramirez killed Ceballos “because of a bias against the victim’s sexual orientation.” Along with murder, he faced hate crime and lying-in-wait allegations.
A friend of Ceballos, Jazmine Martinez, told the Desert Sun the victim was gay.
The son of a farm worker and eldest of five children, Ceballos was a student at College of the Desert on a partial scholarship.
Both Ceballos and Ramirez were also employed at the same Indio Pizza Hut, and both worked a shift on the day Ceballos was killed, but the suspect got off an hour earlier, the paper reported.