A Sept. 10 preliminary hearing date was confirmed Friday for a registered sex offender accused of throwing his 1-year-old daughter off a cliff in the mountains south of the Coachella Valley, and also attacking the child’s mother and a good Samaritan.
Adam Slater, 50, of Palm Desert was arrested May 7, 2020, in connection with a spate of crimes — including murder — the previous day that culminated in a rollover car crash on Highway 74 near Pinyon Crest, where he allegedly threw his daughter over “a steep cliff into a ravine,” according to Riverside County sheriff’s Sgt. Ben Ramirez.
During a status hearing at the Larson Justice Center in Indio on Friday, Riverside County Superior Court Judge John J. Ryan conferred with the prosecution and defense about scheduling, and all sides agreed to proceed with the preliminary hearing in September.
The hearing will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant a trial for Slater, who is being held without bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
In addition to murder, Slater is charged with attempted murder, assault on a child under 8 years old resulting in death, assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest.
He also faces a special circumstance allegation of committing a murder during the commission of a kidnapping, which makes him eligible for the death penalty if the District Attorney’s Office decides to pursue it, and a sentence-enhancing allegation of using a weapon — a knife — in the commission of a murder.
According to the sheriff’s department, the series of events began about 14 miles from the crash site in the 41000 block of Washington Street, outside the Southwest Community Church in Indian Wells, where deputies responded to a stabbing call about 8:30 a.m. that was described as a “domestic violence incident.”
Deputies located an injured woman who was taken to a hospital with non-critical injuries.
Slater and the woman — who was six months pregnant at the time of the attack — were married, and the year-old daughter was theirs together, according to media reports. The woman was treated for multiple stab wounds, but survived.
Following the attack, Slater allegedly sped away in a vehicle with the child. Deputies learned soon afterward that a rollover crash reported about 9 a.m. on Highway 74, around six miles south of Palm Desert could be connected to the original call.
According to sheriff’s officials, passing motorists attempted to help Slater and his daughter escape the wreckage, but he allegedly stabbed one man attempting to help rescue his daughter.
“The suspect then took the girl from the arms of the male he stabbed. Multiple witnesses saw the suspect take the child and throw her over a steep cliff into a ravine,” according to a sheriff’s statement.
The child died at the scene. It was not clear whether she was already dead prior to being thrown off the cliff.
Slater ran down into a canyon, where deputies detained him after a short foot chase, and he was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries connected to the crash, according to the sheriff’s department. Slater was discharged from the hospital the next day and arrested shortly afterward.
It was unclear if the man he allegedly stabbed required medical treatment.
Slater was in violation of the terms of his parole, according to California’s Megan’s Law website. He was convicted in 1995 of sexually penetrating a victim with a foreign object by force, a felony, and served about two years in state prison before being released in 1997.
The website did not provide specifics about his parole violation.