Trial To Begin For Desert Hot Springs Man Accused in Wife’s Fatal Shooting

Trial To Begin For Desert Hot Springs Man Accused in Wife’s Fatal Shooting

Martín Di Felice

Trial is scheduled to begin Monday for a Desert Hot Springs man accused of fatally shooting his wife in their home.

James Daniel Fidler III, 30, is charged with murder and domestic abuse, along with four counts of willful child cruelty, stemming from the 2016 shooting death of his wife, 19-year-old Janette Reyes.

Authorities say the shooting happened about 2 a.m. at the couple’s home in the 16100 block of Via Quedo, in an unincorporated area just south of Desert Hot Springs.

According to preliminary hearing testimony, Fidler was at a barbecue that began the previous day with friends and relatives to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. During the get-together, Fidler injected methamphetamine, the defendant’s grandmother testified.

At some point during the night, Fidler ran to his uncle’s home a few houses away, and frantically reported that “Janette got shot,” according to testimony.

The men allegedly went back to the scene of the shooting and loaded Reyes into Fidler’s car, and he drove her to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Fidler walked away from the hospital and communicated with several relatives in the ensuing hours by cell phone and in person, according to authorities.

His grandmother, Rosa Gamez, testified that Fidler told her by phone he had been in the couple’s bedroom and believed he saw Reyes having sex with someone else prior to the shooting.

Fidler’s brother, Ronald Chavez, testified that Fidler showed up crying hysterically, and explained that he “heard someone in the room,” then heard a “pop.” Upon being pressed for more facts, Fidler allegedly said, “I guess I shot her,” Chavez testified.

Fidler surrendered later that night.

Chavez testified that Reyes had been unhappy that Fidler had recently started using methamphetamine again, but that the couple didn’t otherwise seem to be having obvious problems.

In ordering Fidler to stand trial on charges including child endangerment during his preliminary hearing, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Gunther cited the fact that the couple’s four children, ages 5 and under, had access to the firearm and were living in “deleterious conditions.”

Fidler is being held at the Indio jail on $3 million bail.