A felon accused of gunning down a man and partially paralyzing the victim’s cousin during a dispute outside a Banning liquor store pleaded not guilty Friday to murder and other charges.
Brody Joseph Baca, 22, was arrested last month in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, and extradited back to Riverside County. He’s being held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.
Along with murder, Baca is charged with attempted murder, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.
He was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Hollenhorst, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for June 10 at the Banning Justice Center.
The defendant allegedly killed 18-year-old Alex Marcotte and critically wounded his cousin, then-22-year-old Dylan Artea, both of Banning, on the evening of Dec. 28, 2018.
The victims had just walked out of 4 Bros Liquor at 310 E. Ramsey St. and were heading to a going-away party for a family friend preparing to leave for military service when they encountered Baca in the parking lot. Investigators allege the defendant shot the pair during an argument — the subject of which was not disclosed.
Marcotte was struck twice in the upper body and died a short time later at a Coachella Valley hospital. Artea was shot once in the back.
His mother, Kelly Blistan, told City News Service last year that the bullet exited the young man’s throat, prompting a nearly 12-hour surgery to fix the damage. The bullet also struck his spine, she said, leaving half of his body paralyzed.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit filed by Banning police Sgt. Mike Bennett, a friend of Baca witnessed the attack and later identified him to police. However, before law enforcement officers could track him down, he fled south of the border.
Blistan said her son was still undergoing physical therapy and seeking all available options to regain the use of his lower body.
“We’re not giving up. Every day is a struggle,” she said.
According to court records, Baca has a prior conviction for carrying a loaded stolen firearm.