A young man accused of killing his girlfriend’s former partner in the community of Mesa Verde near Blythe re-entered a not guilty plea Monday and was ordered to return to court on July 7 for a trial-readiness conference.

Brandon Jesus Hernandez, 20, of Blythe was arrested last October on suspicion of fatally stabbing 22-year-old Victor Hernandez of Blythe outside a home in the 17500 block of Palowalla Road. Authorities said the two are not related.

Following a preliminary hearing that stretched over two days last month, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Russell Moore ruled that prosecutors presented sufficient evidence for the defendant to proceed to trial on charges of murder, criminal threats and assault with a deadly weapon.

His co-defendant, 24-year-old Manuel Hector Gomez of Blythe, was also held to answer to one felony count each of negligent discharge of a firearm and possessing a firearm while on probation.

Both defendants remain in custody.

Deputies went to a home in the unincorporated community of Mesa Verde west of Blythe last Oct. 3 in response to a report of an assault with a deadly weapon with a number of people present about 8:30 a.m., according to Riverside County sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Carroll.

By the time deputies arrived, the gathering had dispersed. Shortly afterward, deputies learned that a person had been taken to a nearby hospital for injuries suffered in an assault, according to Carroll.

Victor Hernandez died of his injuries later that day, and investigators subsequently identified Brandon Hernandez as the suspect and took him into custody. Gomez was arrested nearby minutes after his co-defendant’s arrest.

According to Deputy District Attorney Michael Tripp, the victim chased the defendant back to the defendant’s house in a vehicle, which is when the defendant allegedly called Gomez to come help him.

The defendant’s girlfriend had previously dated the victim, but additional information regarding what sparked the altercation that day was unclear.

Brandon Hernandez allegedly stabbed Victor Hernandez outside the house. An associate drove him to the hospital.

The defendant is also accused of threatening and assaulting a second person identified only as “N. Gamez” in court papers.

Sometime during the altercation, Gomez allegedly unloaded multiple rounds from a shotgun or rifle, accounting for the charges against him, according to prosecutors.

Gomez posted bond shortly his arrest in the case, and was subsequently re-arrested on unconnected allegations of domestic violence.

Hernandez, who does not have any documented felony convictions in Riverside County, had a bench warrant out for his arrest in an unresolved misdemeanor case involving allegations that he evaded a peace officer in March, court records show.

At the time of his arrest, Gomez was in the midst a three-year probation term stemming from a 2019 misdemeanor conviction for possessing brass knuckles. He has no documented felony convictions in Riverside County.

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