A convicted felon accused, along with a friend, of fatally beating and stabbing a 31-year-old man in a racially motivated attack outside a Hemet bar pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder and other charges.
Angel Melesio Sanchez, 32, of Hemet, allegedly joined 28-year-old Ernesto Gonzales of Hemet in killing the victim, identified in court documents only as “A.C.,” on Dec. 28.
Along with murder, Sanchez is charged with assault resulting in great bodily injury and a sentence-enhancing hate crime allegation. Gonzales is charged with murder and a sentence-enhancing allegation of using a knife in the commission of a deadly felony, as well as the hate crime enhancement.
Sanchez was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Hollenhorst, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for Feb. 11 at the Banning Justice Center.
The defendant is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta.
Gonzales, who is being held on $1 million bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, is slated to be arraigned Wednesday before Hollenhorst.
Shortly after midnight on Dec. 28, Sanchez and Gonzales were involved in an unspecified dispute with A.C. and another man, identified in court documents only as “R.M.,” all of whom were inside the bar near the intersection of Carmalita Street and Florida Avenue, according to Hemet police Lt. Nathan Miller.
The confrontation spilled out of the bar and onto the street, culminating in the fatal assault, Miller said.
Patrol officers were flagged down by a passer-by and found the victim mortally wounded. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene moments later.
Relying on security surveillance video from surrounding businesses and eyewitness accounts, Sanchez and Gonzales were soon identified as the alleged perpetrators.
Sanchez was arrested without incident on the night of Dec. 28, and his co-defendant was taken into custody three days later.
Court documents show Sanchez has prior convictions for illegally manufacturing a weapon and driving under the influence.
Gonzales has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.
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