A 36-year-old convicted felon accused of killing an Anza resident during a dispute, then fleeing to Northern California, where he was apprehended, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder and other charges.
Benjamin Franklin Winkle was arrested in November by Placer County Sheriff’s Department personnel after he allegedly committed unspecified offenses in that area.
Winkle was returned to Riverside County less than a week later.
Along with murder, he is charged with witness intimidation, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.
Winkle was arraigned before Superior Court Judge Judith Clark, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for Jan. 21 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta and left his bail set at $1 million.
The defendant is being held at the nearby Byrd Detention Center.
Riverside County sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Carroll alleged that on the afternoon of Oct. 6, Winkle and 37-year-old Michael Mendoza were involved in a confrontation in the 61200 block of Indian Paint Brush Road in Anza regarding prior conflicts.
During the dispute, the defendant allegedly pulled a handgun and shot the victim multiple times, according to the sergeant.
Winkle allegedly fled before deputies arrived, but investigators soon confirmed his identity, culminating in a warrant being issued for his arrest, Carroll said.
He said Placer County officials notified homicide detectives in Perris during the last week of November that the defendant was behind bars. Intrastate extradition proceedings began immediately.
According to court records, Winkle has a prior felony conviction in another jurisdiction, but details were unavailable.