A Cathedral City couple accused of aiding the woman's son before and after he allegedly murdered a man outside a Desert Hot Springs home must stand trial on felony charges, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Following a roughly 90-minute preliminary hearing at the Larson Justice Center, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Dean Benjamini found there was sufficient evidence to bound William Paul McCrumb, 62, and Tamara Lanit Lester, 39, over for trial.
McCrumb was ordered to proceed to trial on charges of murder, assault with a deadly weapon, being a felon in possession of a firearm and being an accessory after the fact.
The judge found there was sufficient evidence for Lester to stand trial on charges of being an accessory and a convicted felon with a gun.
A post-preliminary hearing arraignment is scheduled for June 10. McCrumb remains behind bars in lieu of $1 million bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, while Lester is at the same facility, being held on $250,000 bail.
According to evidence presented during the hearing, Lester's 21-year-old son, Taireece Zaequann Ross, was the alleged shooter in the deadly April 2 attack on Damon Capacchione.
The 38-year-old victim encountered Ross at the home of a mutual acquaintance in the 12700 block of Parma Drive. According to investigators, the two men got into a physical altercation in the driveway, prompting calls to police, who arrived around 6:10 p.m. and spotted Ross holding a chair over his head, allegedly motioning as though ready to strike Capacchione with it.
Officers questioned both men, who laughed off the affair, suggesting they were only "slap boxing" for recreation, said Deputy District Attorney Anthony Orlando.
Officers issued a warning to the men and left moments later, according to testimony.
At 6:20 p.m., they were summoned back to the scene to investigate a shooting and found Capacchione suffering from a shotgun blast to the chest.
Witnesses alleged that after officers left the location, McCrumb grabbed a pump-action shotgun out of his vehicle, giving it to Ross, who turned it on the victim.
Investigators said there were conflicting accounts of what exactly transpired, with at least one person describing a struggle for the weapon but others indicating Capacchione was shot outright.
After the slaying, the defendants left the scene, with Lester taking the shotgun and disposing of it, the prosecution alleges.
The victim was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, where he died less than 30 minutes later.
McCrumb, Lester and Ross were arrested within a day.
According to Orlando, Ross' preliminary hearing is expected this summer. His mother and stepfather's hearing went forward because neither would consent to delays. Under state law, defendants have a right to a preliminary hearing within 60 days of arraignment.
If convicted, both McCrumb and Ross, who is charged with first-degree murder, face 50 years to life in prison. Lester could be sentenced to nearly four years behind bars if convicted.
According to court records, McCrumb has prior felony convictions for burglary and possession of controlled substances. Ross has a misdemeanor battery conviction, while Lester has a prior convictions for theft and battery.
Ross is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Indio Jail.
— City News Service.