Closing arguments are expected Tuesday in the trial of a man accused of beating a Thermal man to death with a bat.
Saul Mayoral, 53, is accused in the March 23, 2018, death of a man identified by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office as Hector Quinones.
Quinones’ body was found in a drainage channel near Mayoral’s mobile home, authorities said.
Mayoral is charged with one felony count of murder along with sentence- enhancing allegations of using a weapon during the felony.
He has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to the charges, meaning if he is convicted, a second phase of trial would be held to determine if the defendant was sane at the time of the crime.
During opening statements Oct. 18, Deputy District Attorney Robert Hightower said Quinones’ death was the result of a “brutal clear attack.” He said witnesses in the area heard an argument between the victim and the defendant, and the victim was heard yelling, “Get back” and “don’t get so close to me.”
Hightower said the statements run counter to Mayoral’s contention that he acted in self-defense when the victim came after him with a pipe.
Mayoral’s attorney, Alex Hallowell, told jurors the evidence does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that what occurred was really murder. Hallowell said that while witness testimony suggests an argument between the defendant and victim, no one actually saw what occurred.
Hallowell also told jurors that his client “can’t understand his own actions.”
A local resident discovered the victim’s body at 7:17 a.m. March 23, 2018, in the 87800 block of Avenue 52 and flagged down deputies, according to Sgt. Wallace Clear of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Mayoral approached authorities later that day with what appeared to be blood on him, indicating that he knew they would want to talk to him, according to a prosecution trial brief.
When questioned by authorities, Mayoral admitted to striking Hector with the bat, but claimed it was in self-defense, saying the victim came at him with a pipe, according to the trial brief. Prosecutors said Mayoral admitted what he did was “a mistake.” A bat and a pipe were found at the scene.
At the time of his arrest, Mayoral was on probation for battery committed against a custodial officer, according to court records.
He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.