A gang member accused of joining four associates — all of whom have been convicted and sentenced — in the slaying of a 22-year-old Indio man during a gang-related dispute over three years ago is slated to make a court appearance next week.
Miguel Cavazos, 39, of Indio was identified as an alleged participant in the murder of Adrian Valdez following an Indio police investigation that concluded well after the defendant’s alleged cohorts had been sentenced.
Cavazos was charged last week with first-degree murder and sentence- enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations, as well as a special circumstance allegation of killing for the benefit of a criminal street gang.
According to an Indio Police Department statement, the defendant was identified after “additional information surfaced (indicating) Cavazos was present and a participant in the shooting.”
Police declined to elaborate on the findings.
Cavazos, who is being held without bail at the Indio Jail, pleaded not guilty to the charges on Oct. 7. He’s slated to appear for a felony settlement conference at the Larson Justice Center on Oct. 23.
Co-defendants Cesar Anthony Monzon, 29, Angel Zacarias Lopez, 31, Andrew Marquie Malanche, 28, and Jose Antonio Armendariz, 35, were all sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on June 17.
Along with first-degree murder, each defendant was convicted of gang activity and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations. The Indio jury also found true a special circumstance allegation against Monzon of killing for the benefit of a gang, while the panel found true a special circumstance allegation of firing from a vehicle causing death against his associates.
Deputy District Attorney Jacob Silva said there was a dispute at the gravesite of Lopez’s cousin before the defendants targeted Valdez. He was standing with a group of people, some of whom were known gang members, outside a home in the 82600 block of Mountain View Avenue when the shooting happened shortly before 1 a.m. on Aug. 7, 2016.
Security surveillance videotape from an Indio 7-Eleven showed the occupants of a Chevrolet Caprice and a Toyota Sequoia congregating at the convenience store, then going to the Mountain View property.
A security camera mounted on a nearby home captured gunfire coming from both sides of the Toyota, while the driver of the Chevrolet sped away eastbound. Silva conceded during the trial that it was unclear who fired the fatal shot.
Between 10 and 15 people were standing with Valdez at the time, and Armendariz’s attorney, John Dolan, argued that gunfire originating from within that group could have struck Valdez.
Armendariz, whom police said was driving the Toyota, was arrested Aug. 8, 2016. Three bullet holes were found on the exterior of the SUV, and ammunition was found inside, according to the prosecution.
Lopez and Malanche went to nearby JFK Memorial Hospital hours after the attack. Malanche was hospitalized with a single gunshot wound that entered through his backside, while Lopez was treated for a graze wound.
Police were notified, and officers seized a backpack belonging to Lopez that he had dropped near the emergency room. The satchel contained two handguns and nearly 100 rounds of ammunition, according to an Indio police affidavit filed in support of an arrest warrant.
According to the declaration, Lopez told police he was inside the Chevrolet during the shooting, but he did not admit to taking part.
Malanche told detectives he was driving by the Mountain View Avenue home with Lopez when they were fired upon. Malanche said he was “scared,” and that he and Lopez fired several shots at their attackers in retaliation, according to the affidavit.