A Sept. 8 trial date was confirmed Friday for a young man accused in a racially motivated shooting that claimed the life of an 18-year-old partygoer in Moreno Valley.

Darren Peter Zesk, 20, of Riverside is charged with first-degree murder, special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and perpetrating a hate crime, as well as sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations, for the 2020 slaying of Massai Cole of Inglewood.

During a status hearing Friday, Riverside County Superior Court Judge John Molloy conferred with the prosecution and defense regarding scheduling, and both sides tentatively agreed to be prepared to move forward with trial proceedings at the Riverside Hall of Justice in four weeks.

Zesk is being held in lieu of $2 million bail at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta.

His cousin, 20-year-old Jared Lee Zesk of Riverside, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced in June to 11 years in state prison. Prosecutors dropped a murder charge against him as part of a plea agreement.

Darren Zesk is accused of gunning down Cole on the night of Feb. 1, 2020.

According to evidence presented during the defendants’ preliminary hearing in July of that year, the cousins were partying with others at a house in the 16500 block of Century Street, near Krameria Avenue, when a fight erupted between the Zesks and other celebrants, prompting the hosts to kick the young men off of the property.

The Zesks left, but returned 90 minutes later, and Darren Zesk allegedly shot Cole at point-blank range, firing several bullets into the victim’s upper body. He died at the scene.

The basis for the hate crime allegation was unclear. Cole was Black, and the defendants are Caucasian.

The Zesks fled to Riverside, where Darren Zesk was arrested without incident 30 minutes later on Huston Drive, according to sheriff’s officials. Jared Zesk was taken into custody three days later in Jurupa Valley.

Neither defendant had documented prior felony convictions.

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