Three convicted felons accused of fatally beating a fellow inmate at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning were charged Friday with first-degree murder.
Aaron Allen Aubrey, 26, Jason Lynn Barton, 43, and Richard Hampton, 37, allegedly killed 29-year-old Rosendo Echevarria earlier this month.
Aubrey and Hampton have since been relocated to the Benoit Detention Center in Indio, while Barton has been moved to the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta.
In addition to the murder count, all three men are charged with a special-circumstance allegation of lying in wait, which could make them eligible for the death penalty if convicted and Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin decides to pursue it.
They are slated to make a joint appearance before Superior Court Judge Timothy Hollenhorst on Monday afternoon at the Banning Justice Center.
According to sheriff’s officials, Echevarria was attacked about 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 8 within a cell block where he and the defendants were housed.
By the time correctional deputies reached Echevarria, he was dead, Sgt. Rick Espinoza said.
The assailants were not immediately identified, but Espinoza said the ensuing investigation ultimately pointed to Aubrey, Barton and Hampton, who were formally arrested and removed from the Smith jail in the last week.
A possible motive for the attack has not been disclosed.
Aubrey is separately charged with murder for allegedly killing his 51-year-old mother in Riverside and then stealing her car in June 2018. He has been jailed since that time, awaiting trial. The defendant has a prior felony conviction in another jurisdiction that was not specified.
Barton is separately charged with gunning down his father and girlfriend in Moreno Valley on Christmas Eve 2015, and he has been jailed and awaiting trial since then. He has prior convictions for assault with a deadly weapon, domestic violence resulting in traumatic injuries and felony battery.
Hampton has been awaiting trial for an alleged attempted murder in the Riverside metropolitan area in June 2019, for which details were not available. The defendant also has prior felony convictions in another jurisdiction, but court records did not detail the offenses.
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