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Man suspected in DHS shooting re-enters not guilty plea to attempted murder


A 23-year-old man accused of shooting another man with an assault rifle in Desert Hot Springs re-entered a not-guilty plea today to attempted murder.

Manual Rivera-Villa of Desert Hot Springs also denied sentence-enhancing allegations of causing great bodily injury and discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury, according to court records.  

He initially pleaded not guilty to the charge and denied the allegations April 16, 2020, at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, according to court records. At the end of his preliminary hearing July 12, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Gregory J. Olson ruled there was sufficient evidence for Rivera-Villa to stand trial on the attempted murder count and sentence-enhancing allegations, to which the defendant pleaded not guilty and denied Thursday at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.

The charge and allegations stem from the April 9, 2020, shooting of a man in front of a residence in the 66700 block of First Street.   

During the preliminary hearing, Desert Hot Springs Police Department Detective Chris Tooth said he interviewed the defendant's sister, who told him that Rivera-Villa burst in through the door of their family's home, appearing to have just been in a fight, and told them that someone was going to shoot at their home.   

She said her brother, who was scratched up and had blood on him, allegedly went to get a rifle and started to leave the residence but she and her father attempted to restrain him because they were "afraid he was going to do something stupid,'' Tooth said. The defendant's sister said Rivera-Villa smelled like alcohol and eventually left the residence, allegedly with the rifle, through a window, according to the detective.

The sister then went to look for her brother and found him near Mesquite and Acoma Avenues, where she picked him up and began to drive him to their older brother's residence, according to Tooth. As she was driving on Palm Drive, she made a turn on First Street in an effort to "double-down" and pick up their father as well, but before she made the turn going toward their family's home, her brother told her to keep going straight.   

As she was driving, Rivera-Villa allegedly began shooting out a window at a group of people standing in front of a residence, Tooth said. The sister accelerated the car and one person from the residence shot back, according to the detective.

Desert Hot Springs Police Department Detective Gregory Elias testified that when he responded to the location around 9 p.m. the day of the shooting, he saw people compressing towels over a wound to the lower abdomen of a man who had just been shot.

Elias said the victim was going in and out of consciousness, so he was not able to hold a full conversation with him.   

Rivera-Villa was subsequently identified as a suspect in the crime and arrested the day after the shooting in the 12400 block of Jasmine Drive with assistance from the District Attorney's Office Gang Impact Team.

He remains held at the John J. Benoit Detention Center in Indio on $1 million bail.

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Article Topic Follows: Crime

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