A young man accused of fatally shooting a friend near Blythe re-entered a not guilty plea Thursday and was ordered to return to court on April 12 for a trial-readiness conference.
TeAndre Kevin Robinson, 22, of Ripley is suspected of gunning down 23-year-old Martin Perez-Pinon in the small unincorporated community about a 10-minute drive south of Blythe.
Following a preliminary hearing at the Larson Justice Center in Indio last month, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Russell Moore found prosecutors presented sufficient evidence, “albeit it barely,” for the defendant to proceed to trial on a murder charge.
He remains in custody in lieu of $1 million bail at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta.
Riverside County sheriff’s deputies were sent about 7:40 p.m. last March 28 to the area 25th and Ramsey avenues on an assault with a deadly weapon call and found Perez-Pinon who was pronounced dead at the scene of a single gunshot wound to the collarbone area.
Sheriff’s Investigator David Sandoval testified during the preliminary hearing that a witness told investigators the victim and defendant “were fighting and had a gun battle.”
Defense attorney Christopher Hickey characterized the shooting as a “roughhouse” incident gone wrong — a playful encounter between two friends that ended in gunfire. He said other witnesses described the mood prior to the shooting as positive, and that the two friends were “joking” and “playing around.”
Deputy District Attorney Samantha Paixao conceded that a motive in the shooting remains unclear, but said the defendant’s DNA was found on the trigger of the suspected murder weapon, which was found at the scene.
“At this point we have no idea why the shooting happened, but that does not change the fact it did occur,” Paixao said.
Sometime after the shooting, Robinson called 911 and told an operator that Perez-Pinon was playing with a gun before it was dropped and accidentally went off, striking his friend.
Riverside County District Attorney’s Office Investigator Michael Riley testified that the handgun in question was in good working order and that it was unlikely that the gun went off accidentally.
Robinson, who has no felony convictions in Riverside County, turned himself in a few days after the shooting.