A felon accused of bludgeoning his cellmate to death at the John Benoit Detention Center in Indio was ordered Wednesday to stand trial.

Luke Hanchette, 42, of Hemet, is charged with killing 48-year-old John Leo Hemmer of South Dakota, who was found dead in July 2020 inside a cell the two shared, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Hanchette appeared at the Larson Justice Center Wednesday for the second half of his preliminary hearing that began March 15, and Riverside County Superior Court Judge Anthony Villalobos found there was sufficient evidence for him to stand trial on the murder charge.

He’s scheduled to return to court for a post-preliminary hearing arraignment April 6.

Along with a murder charge, Hanchette faces a sentence-enhancing allegation of using a weapon — a metal crutch — during the commission of a felony.

Sgt. Ben Ramirez said correctional deputies were doing a routine safety check on July 21 when they found Hemmer unresponsive, and he appeared to have suffered significant injuries. Despite first responders’ attempts to save him, Hemmer was pronounced dead soon afterward.

There was no word on what provoked the attack.

Hanchette was in custody awaiting trial on charges of assault on a person causing great bodily injury, court records show. He has prior felony convictions in Riverside County, including assault with a deadly weapon.

Hemmer, meanwhile, was awaiting trial on allegations that he physically abused and choked his girlfriend into unconsciousness during a road trip in 2019.

He was charged with nine felonies, including torture, attempted murder, criminal threats and several spousal abuse counts, and faced a potential life sentence if convicted.

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