A man and his girlfriend accused of shooting and killing a 14-year-old Hemet boy in a drive-by attack near his home must stand trial for murder and other charges, a judge ruled.
Michael Wayne Delacruz, 25, and Maria Luisa Lemus, 27, both of Hemet, are accused in the May 31, 2010, slaying of Ruben Alfaro.
A preliminary hearing for the defendants concluded Monday after two days of testimony in October. At the end of the hearing, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mark Mandio found there was sufficient evidence to hold Delacruz to answer a first-degree murder charge, as well as a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait and a sentence-enhancing allegation of using a firearm during a felony.
Mandio also ruled there was sufficient evidence to hold Lemus to answer for murder.
Mandio set a post-indictment arraignment for Dec. 5. Each defendant remains held in lieu of $1 million bail — Delacruz at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta, Lemus at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.
Delacruz faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted. Lemus faces 25 years to life.
According to testimony, the defendants fatally shot Alfaro as the teenager stood outside his family’s residence in the 100 block of Alessandro Street in Hemet around 1 a.m.
About a half-hour earlier, Alfaro was involved in an altercation with Delacruz’s brother, 23-year-old Fernando Becerra, outside the Depot Deli, around the corner from the victim’s home, according to witnesses.
The confrontation allegedly prompted Delacruz and Lemus to go looking for Alfaro, investigators said.
While Lemus was driving her black Ford Explorer, Delacruz, allegedly armed with a shotgun, positioned himself in the back of the sport utility vehicle, according to testimony.
The pair pulled alongside the curb where Alfaro was standing and opened fire, striking him in the midsection, prosecutors allege.
Alfaro was pronounced dead at the scene.
The alleged attack was witnessed by a nearby resident familiar with all the parties involved, a woman identified in court records as Stephanie Marquez.
After gathering statements from her and other witnesses, police arrested Delacruz and Lemus without incident on June 4.
In the ensuing months, Becerra threatened Marquez’s life if she testified against his brother. He was charged with witness intimidation, a felony, to which he pleaded guilty last month, resulting in a two-year prison sentence.