Woman Pleads Not Guilty in Armed Jewelry Store Robbery

City News Service Pristine Villarreal

INDIO (CNS) – A 23-year-old woman accused with three men in an armed robbery last year at a Palm Desert jewelry store pleaded not guilty to felony charges Friday.

Tracy resident Karina Monique Ortega and Demetrius Marquise Thornton, 24, of Colton were each charged with one felony count of robbery and assault with a deadly weapon to cause great bodily injury, according to court records.

Ortega pleaded not guilty to the charges Friday morning at the Larson Justice Center in Indio and Thornton pleaded not guilty Feb. 23.

Ortega is accused with Thornton and Compton resident Joshua King, 27, of robbing a jewelry store owner, identified in court records only as “Salvador G.,” with San Pedro resident Rayjon Jamell Thornton, 26, according to Sgt. Daniel Milbrandt of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Rayjon Thornton was immediately sentenced to eight years and four months in state prison after he pleaded guilty Jan. 25 to robbery and being a convicted felon and narcotic addict in possession of a firearm, according to court records. King pleaded not guilty Feb. 22 to one felony count each of robbery, being a convicted felon and narcotic addict in possession of a firearm, and assault with a gun.

Palm Desert sheriff’s station deputies responded to the jewelry store in the 73200 block of Highway 111 on June 28, 2022, after a report of an armed robbery, Milbrandt said.

“Three suspects entered the business, held the owner at gunpoint, and stole jewelry before fleeing the store,” Milbrandt alleged.

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

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.

“The Palm Desert Investigations Bureau assumed the investigation and, over the past six months, worked to identify the four suspects involved,” prosecutors said on Jan. 10.

Rayjon Thornton was arrested Aug. 9, 2022 in Commerce and Demetrius Thornton was arrested in Adelanto, Milbrandt said. King was arrested Jan. 4 in Compton.

King remains held without bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta, according to inmate records. Demetrius Thornton and Ortega posted bail.

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

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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