A felon suspected of stealing a wedding ring from a woman in Palm Desert and attempting to sell it back to her reentered a not guilty plea Thursday.
Yukon Lee Branch, 45, was arrested hours after allegedly stealing the ring from the woman in the 34500 block of Monterey Avenue on Dec. 31, 2018. He was ordered to return to court on Dec. 14 for a trial-readiness conference.
Branch remains out of custody after posting $120,000 bond, and is charged with extortion, grand theft, felony evading and eluding a pursuing peace officer.
In a preliminary hearing last month at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Anthony Villalobos ruled that prosecutors presented sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.
According to Riverside County sheriff’s investigators, Branch met with the woman about 8:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, 2018, and stole the ring under the guise of purchasing it after she had posted it for sale online.
Sheriff’s deputies allege Branch grabbed the ring, sped away in a vehicle and later attempted to sell the ring back to her for $500.
He was arrested by sheriff’s deputies after allegedly speeding away following a traffic stop that night near Indian Canyon Drive and Interstate 10, triggering a pursuit through North Palm Springs that ended near Wendy and Tipton roads just before 2 a.m. Jan. 1.
Branch has felony convictions in Riverside County from 2015 for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: