A 19-year-old man accused of gunning down the proprietor of a Cathedral City convenience store during a robbery pleaded not guilty Monday to murder and other charges.
Charles Lamar Campbell of Beaumont and his alleged accomplice, 19-year- old Joel Ortiz-Hidalgo of Desert Hot Springs, were arrested March 1 in connection with the Feb. 21 killing of 61-year-old Cathedral City resident Chris Sgouromitis.
Campbell was arraigned at the Banning Justice Center before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Alfonso Fernandez, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for March 15 at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.
Ortiz-Hidalgo, who allegedly acted as the getaway driver, pleaded not guilty last week.
Both men, who remain in custody without bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, are charged with one count each of murder and attempted robbery, with a special circumstance allegation of killing in the commission of a robbery.
Police were sent to the Outpost Market at 68171 Ramon Road about 9:15 p.m. Feb. 21 on an armed robbery report.
Patrol officers arrived to find the victim suffering from gunshot wounds. Despite first responders’ attempts to save him, Sgouromitis was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sgouromitis was popular in the community, and police said help from residents was critical in tracking down the two suspects.
The day after the shooting, community members cycled in and out of the store paying their respects to the business owner and visiting a makeshift memorial nearby.
According to police, he was a “father of four with strong local community ties, who was not involved in criminal activity and died in his longtime place of business.”
Neither defendant has any documented felony convictions in Riverside County.