Two suspected gang members accused of committing multiple robberies during a three-month period in Coachella pleaded not guilty to various charges Thursday and were scheduled to return to court Oct. 5 for a trial-readiness conference.
Brian Emmanuel Jamand, 25, and Jorge Alberto Rojas, 29, of Coachella, are accused of multiple robberies in Coachella from August to October of 2019.
Jamand is charged with three felony counts of robbery and Rojas with four felony counts of robbery. Rojas is also facing three felony counts of owning a firearm — a handgun — while being a felon and narcotics addict.
The charges against both include firearm and criminal street gang sentence-enhancing allegations.
Following a preliminary hearing Aug. 18 at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Anthony Villalobos determined there was sufficient evidence for both defendants to stand trial.
During the preliminary hearing, authorities said the two suspects robbed a Castaneda’s restaurant, an unidentified beauty store and a Chevron gas station. Rojas targeted a fourth location, a Del Taco restaurant, by himself, according to the felony complaint.
Sheriff’s Deputy Derek Myers testified that, during the Castaneda’s robbery, the two suspects approached the cash register, ordered a drink, then one of them brandished a handgun at the cashier once the register was opened.
Sheriff’s Deputy Cameron James testified that it was Rojas who wielded the gun during the robberies.
Rojas’ attorney argued that the means used to identify his client was insufficient, and that the prosecution’s only solid claim to Rojas being the second alleged robber was testimony provided by Jamand.
Jamand was arrested Oct. 8, 2019, when police searched his residence in the 51000 block of Calle Avila in Coachella. Rojas was arrested one day later on Tyler Street in Coachella.
Rojas is being held on $1.4 million bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
Jamand is being held on $285,000 bail at the John Benoit Detention Center in Indio.