A felon accused of hacking a 65-year-old North Palm Springs woman to death with a machete days after being released from state prison re-entered a not guilty plea Thursday.
David Earl Williams Jr., 29, was ordered to return to the Larson Justice Center in Indio on May 17 for a trial-readiness conference. He remains held on $2 million bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.
Williams is charged with murder for the killing Robin Patricia Barr, whose body was recovered on Feb. 24 in the open desert northwest of Varner Road and Palm Drive.
Following a preliminary hearing at the Larson Justice Center in Indio last month, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Burke Strunsky found prosecutors presented sufficient evidence for Williams to proceed to trial.
Along with murder, Williams is charged with one count of attempted murder for allegedly attacking a victim identified only as “Mayra C” in court papers. Authorities have not released any details about that crime, but he is charged with a sentence-enhancing allegation of inflicting great bodily injury for the attack. His motives for the attacks and relationship with victims was not immediately made clear.
Williams faces additional sentence-enhancing allegations of using a weapon — a machete — during the commission of a murder, and committing crimes while on post-release community supervision stemming from two felony cases in which he pleaded guilty to previously.
Riverside County sheriff’s Sgt. Rick Espinoza said deputies were sent on Feb. 18 to the 64000 block of Vermillion Road in the unincorporated community of North Palm Springs on a “suspicious circumstance call” and discovered the victim missing.
Homicide investigators assumed the investigation due to the “nature of the circumstances,” Espinoza said, but did not elaborate.
Sheriff’s officials announced a few days later that Barr was presumed dead, and that Williams was suspected of killing her. Jail records show he had been behind bars since Feb. 19, when he was taken into custody in the area of Vermillion Drive in North Palm Springs on suspicion of violating the terms of his post-release community supervision, a week after being released from state prison.
In March 2020, Williams was sentenced to three years and eight months in state prison stemming from two felony cases in which he previously pleaded guilty that collectively included burglary, grand theft, felony evading and vehicle theft charges.
Williams was released from custody on Feb. 13 after securing pre- sentence and good-conduct time credits, according to a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation public information officer.
Williams also has a felony conviction for spousal abuse, court records show.