Trial Proceedings Set for Pair Accused of Killing Hemet Man

City News Service Pristine Villarreal

BANNING (CNS) -Trial proceedings are slated to begin Wednesday for two men accused of killing a 36-year-old Hemet resident during a botched kidnapping.

Alberto Franco, 27, of Hemet, and Christian Anselmo Gomez, 46, of Homeland, were arrested in November 2020 for allegedly killing the victim, identified in court documents only as “S.C.”

Both defendants are charged with first-degree murder, assault resulting in great bodily injury and attempted kidnapping, as well as sentence- enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations. Franco is additionally charged with attempted carjacking.

During a status hearing at the Banning Justice Center Monday, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jorge Hernandez conferred with the prosecution and defense regarding scheduling, and both sides agreed to be prepared to proceed with pretrial motions starting Wednesday.

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

According to Hemet police Lt. Nathan Miller, the duo confronted the victim in an alleyway in the 200 block of East Stetson Avenue about 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2, 2020. Miller alleged that the pair corralled and pummeled the man before he was able to break free, running to a nearby strip mall, where he sought safety outside a pizza parlor.

“The suspects chased the victim, cornered him … and then one of them shot the victim several times,” the lieutenant said.

He said as witnesses called 911, Franco and Gomez jumped into a white SUV and sped away. However, moments later, the vehicle slammed into a brick feature outside a residence in the 1400 block of South Palm Avenue, causing the SUV’s engine to stall, according to Miller, adding that the defendants ran away southbound.

Patrol officers converged on the location and initiated a search for the pair, which ended in the predawn hours the following day, when both were located hiding on Coral Avenue, where they were taken into custody without further incident.

Authorities did not disclose why they allegedly targeted the man.

Neither defendant has documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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