A 35-year-old woman accused of torturing a senior to death and dumping his remains in a trash bin outside a gated community in La Quinta must stand trial on murder and other charges, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Cristina Noelle Canimo of Palm Desert allegedly killed 87-year-old Ronald Clarke during a November 2019 attack at a board-and-care facility.
Following a preliminary hearing at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Gregory Olson found there was sufficient evidence to warrant a trial on the first-degree murder count, as well as one count of torture, a special circumstance allegation of inflicting torture in the course of a killing and sentence-enhancing weapon allegations.
Olson scheduled a post-preliminary hearing arraignment for Aug. 3. Canimo is being held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.
The special circumstance allegation leaves open the possibility that the defendant could face capital punishment if convicted. However, the District Attorney’s Office has not yet announced whether prosecutors will pursue it.
Canimo allegedly beat Clarke to death on Nov. 21, 2019, at a residential care home, known as “Sunbrook,” in the 43500 block of East Parkway Esplanade, where she was a caregiver and he was a patient, according to sheriff’s investigators.
Prosecutors allege the defendant used a knife, box cutter, screwdriver and a hammer on the victim.
Sunbrook had been the subject of several evaluation and complaint investigations by the California Department of Social Services between 2015 and 2019.
A motive for the killing remains unknown.
Canimo has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.