A Bermuda Dunes man accused of shooting his wife of 38 years during an argument, then calling 911 to confess that he was the gunman, pleaded not guilty today to a first-degree murder charge.
Garey Lee Smith, 55, faces 50 years in prison if convicted of killing his spouse, Sandra, just before midnight Sunday at their home in the 41000 block of Trinity Circle.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge William Lebov set bail at $2 million and ordered Smith to return to court on Sept. 3 for a felony settlement conference.
Smith allegedly shot his 63-year-old spouse five times, then dialed 911 and admitted what he had done, said district attorney’s spokesman Michael Jeandron.
“This is a tragic case of domestic violence,” he said.
Jeandron said he did not know if the Smiths, who had one child, had a history of domestic violence in their relationship.
Sandra Smith was already gone when deputies arrived at the couple’s home, said sheriff’s Sgt. Joe Borja. Her husband was inside and was taken into custody without incident, according to the sergeant.
A neighbor said the couple had lived on the block for as long as 20 years, and had recently begun selling their possessions.
Smith was being held at the Indio Jail.