A 45-year-old man accused of gunning down a motel guest during an altercation in Riverside pleaded not guilty Friday to a murder charge.

Robert Donald Intong of Desert Hot Springs was arrested last month following a Riverside Police Department investigation into the May 17 slaying of 31-year-old Cole William Birchard.

He was arraigned on the murder count, with sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations, by Riverside County Superior Court Judge David Gunn, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for Aug. 19 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

The defendant is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail downtown.

According to Riverside police Officer Javier Cabrera, Intong and Birchard got into a fight in the victim’s room at the Motel 6 in the 3600 block of La Sierra Avenue about 6 a.m. The reasons for the altercation were not specified.

“At some point, (Intong) produced a handgun and fatally shot the victim in the chest,” Cabrera alleged.

Witnesses called 911, and paramedics pronounced Birchard dead at the scene.

According to Cabrera, detectives developed leads the same day pointing to Intong as the assailant, and an arrest warrant was obtained and served at his room in a hotel on Magnolia Avenue, where he was taken into custody without incident.

Court records show the defendant has prior convictions for possession of controlled substances and felony evading.

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