Trial Proceedings Begin for Man Accused in Decade-Old San Jacinto Murder

City News Service Pristine Villarreal

MURRIETA (CNS) – Jury selection began Tuesday in the trial of a man accused of gunning down a San Jacinto resident in an ambush-style revenge attack.

Abram Daniel Palacios, 35, of San Jacinto, is charged with first- degree murder, a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait and sentence- enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations for the 2013 slaying of 23- year-old Ivan Ibarra Carrillo.

The defendant’s half-brother, 50-year-old Juan Javier Mejia of Palm Springs, was convicted in 2016 of identical charges and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge F. Paul Dickerson ruled on pretrial motions Monday and Tuesday, leading to the start of jury selection at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.

The process was slated to resume Thursday morning and continue into next week.

Palacios is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Byrd Detention Center.

According to court documents, the defendant allegedly wanted revenge against Carrillo because he believed the victim had orchestrated a home invasion robbery at his girlfriend’s house in October 2012.

During Mejia’s trial, the prosecution contended that Palacios had been looking for Carrillo over a weeks-long span. Mejia volunteered to act as the hit man, later telling sheriff’s investigators that he had control of both handguns used to carry out the killing, according to a trial brief filed by the District Attorney’s Office.

On June 6, 2013, Palacios received word Carrillo was in his neighborhood, only a block away, near the intersection of Las Rosas Drive and Osprey Street, at which point the defendant allegedly picked up Mejia in his girlfriend’s four-door Honda Accord. The pair then set off to find the victim’s Ford Excursion, according to prosecutors.

Within minutes, they encountered the SUV heading northbound on Las Rosas, where the defendants allegedly pulled directly into the larger vehicle’s path, forcing Carrillo to slam on his brakes.

Mejia jumped out of the Honda with a .40-caliber pistol, firing 14 rounds, several of which struck the victim in the upper body. The defendant later told detectives that when he ran out of bullets, he returned to the car and retrieved a 9mm handgun, then walked to the driver’s side window of the Excursion and fired two more shots, striking Carrillo in the face and head.

Prosecutors said the victim was holding up his hands in an attempt to shield himself from the bullets as he was shot. He died at the scene.

Palacios allegedly admitted to his girlfriend that evening that he and Mejia had gunned down Carrillo, and that the two men were planning to flee south of the border, according to prosecutors.

Less than two weeks later, sheriff’s detectives located Mejia’s ex- wife and four children residing in an apartment on Sunrise Way in Palm Springs. The woman revealed that the defendants had appeared at her residence on the night of June 18 and left three hours later.

An investigator said when he called Mejia’s mobile phone, the defendant “stated he was already in Mexico,” according to court records.

Mejia was taken into custody near Mexico City on Feb. 20, 2015, after more than 18 months on the run, after which he was extradited back to the U.S. and tried.

Palacios also allegedly hid out in Mexico but returned to the U.S. and was located and arrested without incident in Los Angeles in March 2019.

He has prior misdemeanor convictions for illegal possession of a controlled substance, making criminal threats and domestic abuse, court records show.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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