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RSO: Palm Desert murder suspect was dating victim

11-8-RICHARD-HOLBROOK

A Riverside County sheriff's deputy announced Friday that a 21-year-old man charged with the stabbing death of a Palm Desert woman was in a dating relationship with her.

Richard Colin Holbrook of Escondido pleaded not guilty last week to a first-degree murder charge arising from the Oct. 27 slaying of Nicole Henderson, 33, authorities said.

The two were dating, said Deputy Robyn Flores.

Deputies responding to the 45200 block of Panorama Drive on a report of an assault with a deadly weapon about 3:30 p.m. that day found Henderson with
``significant trauma to her body,'' authorities said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Holbrook was arrested less than a quarter-mile away minutes later.

His scheduled felony settlement conference at the Larson Justice Center in Indio today was pushed back until January 10. The reason given for the lengthy continuance was twofold: Attorneys on the case had scheduling conflicts and the Riverside County District Attorney's Office was still awaiting unspecified reports.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Burke Strunsky also vacated Holbrook's preliminary hearing date originally set for Nov. 13.

Last week, Holbrook appeared to have sought to admit his guilt during his arraignment, drawing the ire of his defense attorney, who quickly silenced him.

``I'd like to plead guilty,'' Holbrook said.

The admission came well after the point in the arraignment when defendants state their plea. It happened as Strunsky was informing Holbrook that by agreeing to a continuance, he would be waiving his right to a speedy preliminary hearing, as he is constitutionally entitled to.

Holbrook's attorney, Sean F. Leslie of Carlsbad, had already entered a not-guilty plea earlier in the hearing on his client's behalf. After a brief break in which the attorney spoke to his client and then to the judge and prosecutor, Leslie again pleaded not guilty on his client's behalf.

Strunsky ordered Holbrook to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Holbrook is being held on $1 million bail at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.

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