Trio Accused of Killing La Cresta Man During Burglary Plead Not Guilty

City News Service Pristine Villarreal

MURRIETA (CNS) – A convicted felon and two of his cohorts accused of fatally shooting a 35-year-old man while burglarizing his La Cresta home pleaded not guilty Wednesday to first-degree murder and other offenses.

Jose Daniel Aguilar, 29, Enrique Rojas Jr., 37, and Richard Charlie Smith, 23, are accused of gunning down Andrew Cisneros last month.

Along with murder, all of the men are charged with burglary, robbery and special circumstance allegations of killing in the course of a burglary and killing during the commission of a robbery. Rojas is additionally charged with sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.

A fourth defendant, 37-year-old Manuel Luna Rico, is charged with murder, burglary, robbery and the special circumstance allegations. He pleaded not guilty during a separate arraignment on March 16.

Aguilar, Rojas and Smith were arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Elaine Kiefer, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for May 11 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.

All of the defendants are being held without bail — Aguilar and Rojas at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside, and Rico and Smith at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta.

According to Sgt. Ben Ramirez of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, on the evening of Feb. 26, the defendants allegedly broke into Cisneros’ residence in the 38000 block of Via Majorca, near Via Baya, just west of Murrieta. During the break-in, there was a confrontation between the victim and defendants, who allegedly shot the homeowner several times, Ramirez said.

Witnesses called 911 and patrol deputies and paramedics reached the outlying location a short time later, unsuccessfully attempting resuscitative measures, the sergeant said. Cisneros was pronounced dead at the scene.

Detectives from the Central Homicide Unit initiated an investigation that ultimately pointed to Aguilar, Rico, Rojas and Smith as the alleged assailants. Aguilar was the first taken into custody less than a week later, while his co-defendants were located and arrested without incident two to three weeks after the deadly shooting.

According to court records, Aguilar has prior convictions for auto theft, receiving a stolen vehicle, felony evading, being a felon in possession of an assault weapon and resisting arrest. The other men have no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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