A convicted felon who allegedly joined two men in a home invasion robbery just west of Murrieta that ended in a deadly gunfight pleaded not guilty Friday to armed robbery and other offenses.
Dong Yang, 33, was arrested in Temple City Saturday following a Riverside County sheriff’s investigation that pointed to him as the alleged driver during and after the break-in last month in the unincorporated community of La Cresta.
Along with the robbery count, Yang is charged with first-degree burglary and a sentence-enhancing gun use allegation.
He was arraigned before Superior Court Judge Judith Clark, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for Monday at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta and set his bail at $85,000.
Yang is being held at the nearby Byrd Detention Center.
His alleged cohort, 34-year-old Michael Tong Shun Zhang, is charged with two counts of murder and one count each of attempted murder and burglary. He’s being held on $1 million bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning and is set to be arraigned on Feb. 18.
According to sheriff’s Sgt. Ben Ramirez, about 9 a.m. on Dec. 26, Yang, Zhang and 38-year-old Wang Lin allegedly went to the two-story residence in the 37000 block of Calle de Lobo intending to rob the occupants.
However, after gaining access to the property, the trio were confronted by at least one victim armed with a handgun, Ramirez said.
A brief gun battle ensued, leading to Lin being killed, as well as 45-year-old Alejandro Camacho of Bullhead City, Arizona, who was staying at the home, according to the sergeant.
Zhang was wounded, along with an occupant of the property. Both were taken to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar for treatment and have since recovered. Two additional men inside the house were not hurt.
Ramirez alleged that Yang sped away before deputies reached the location. He was tracked down after evidence collected at the scene and elsewhere confirmed his alleged involvement, the sergeant said.
There were no specifics on why the home was targeted.
According to court records, Zhang has a prior felony conviction for burglary. The murder charges against him include the death of his alleged co-conspirator, Lin. Under California law, anytime an accomplice is killed in a crime, the surviving defendant can be held responsible for the death.
Yang’s felony conviction was in another jurisdiction and no details were available.
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