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Felon accused of stealing wedding ring in Palm Desert will stand trial

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A convicted felon accused of stealing a wedding ring from a woman who tried to sell it online in Palm Desert, then attempting to sell the ring back to her, must stand trial, a judge ruled today.

Yukon Lee Branch, 45, was arrested hours after allegedly stealing the ring from the woman in the 34500 block of Monterey Avenue on Dec. 31, 2018.

Following a preliminary hearing at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Anthony Villalobos ruled prosecutors presented sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.

Villalobos kept Branch's bail at $120,000 and scheduled a post-preliminary hearing arraignment for Nov. 12. He remains out of custody after previously posting bail.

Branch is charged with extortion, grand theft, felony evading and eluding a pursuing peace officer.

According to Riverside County sheriff's investigators, Branch met with the woman about 8:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve 2018 and stole the ring under the guise of purchasing it.

Sheriff's deputies allege Branch grabbed the ring and sped away in a vehicle, and later attempted to sell the ring back to her for $500.

Branch was arrested by sheriff's deputies after allegedly speeding away following a traffic stop that night near Indian Canyon Drive and Interstate 10, triggering a pursuit through North Palm Springs that ended near Wendy and Tipton roads just before 2 a.m. Jan. 1.

Branch has felony convictions in Riverside County from 2015 for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

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Jesus Reyes

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