Man Accused in Armed Jewelry Store Robbery to Stand Trial on Felony Charges

City News Service Pristine Villarreal

INDIO (CNS) – A Compton man accused in an armed robbery last year at a Palm Desert jewelry store was ordered Tuesday to stand trial on felony charges.

Joshua King, 27, is accused with Colton resident Demetrius Thornton, 23, and Karina Ortega, 22, of Tracy, of robbing a jewelry store owner June 28, 2022, according to Sgt. Daniel Milbrandt of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

The trio were each charged with two felony counts, one each of robbery and assault with a hammer to cause great bodily harm, according to court records. King was additionally charged with one felony count of being a convicted felon and narcotic addict in possession of a firearm.

San Pedro resident Rayjon Thorton, 26, pleaded guilty Jan. 25 to the robbery charge and to being a convicted felon and narcotic addict in possession of a firearm, according to court records. The assault with a hammer charge was dismissed and he was immediately sentenced to eight years and four months in prison.

During a preliminary hearing Tuesday at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, Deputy District Attorney Sanja Stark said King was picked up from Long Beach the day of the robbery and went to the jewelry store in the 73200 block of Highway 111 with the other defendants.

Stark alleged that the three male defendants entered the jewelry store, smashed the display cases and took pieces of jewelry while King pointed a firearm, and that at some point, the jewelry store owner was struck on the head with a hammer by another defendant.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Dean Benjamini ruled that there was not enough evidence to warrant a trial for King on the charge of assault with a hammer.

“I think if he knew he was using the hammer, it was to smash cases … not to aid and abet the use of the hammer against the head,” Benjamini said.

But the judge said trial was warranted on an additional charge of assault with a firearm, along with the original counts of robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm. A post-preliminary hearing arraignment was set for Feb. 22.

Ortega is set to be make her first court appearance at the Larson Justice Center in Indio March 3 and Thornton is at large, the subject of a $50,000 bench warrant for his arrest, according to court records.

Rayjon Thorton was arrested Aug. 9 in Commerce and Demetrius Thornton was originally arrested in Adelanto, Mildrandt said. King was arrested Jan. 4 in Compton.

King remains held without bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta, according to inmate records.

None of the defendants have any listed felony convictions in Riverside County.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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