A teen gang member who allegedly participated in the armed robbery of a North Park medical marijuana dispensary in which his accomplice died pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of murder, attempted murder and robbery.

Kurese Bell, 17, who is being charged as an adult, faces life in prison if convicted.

Scene after April 25 North Park dispensary shooting. Photo credit: Fox5SanDiego.com

Judge David Szumowski ordered the defendant held without bail. Bell’s accomplice was killed by a security guard in the North Park robbery. The guard was wounded.

Deputy District Attorney Chris Moon said Bell and the late Marlon Thomas held up an employee at a smoke shop on El Cajon Boulevard on April 21, but the robbery was interrupted when another employee, unaware that a robbery was underway, yelled, forcing the suspects to flee.

Before leaving, Bell trained his gun on an employee and fired off a round, Moon said.

Four days later, on April 25, Bell and Thomas robbed a medical marijuana dispensary on Ray Street, the prosecutor said.

During the robbery, Bell held a gun to the head of a security guard and threatened to kill him and the store owner, Moon alleged.

As the suspects left the store, someone else came in and the security guard went for his gun, which had been left on the ground, and shot and killed Thomas, the prosecutor said.

Bell, who was armed with a revolver, fired multiple rounds at the security guard and wounded him before fleeing, Moon said.

Bell fled San Diego and was arrested in a Los Angeles area motel room last week, the prosecutor said.

A status conference was set for May 30.

– City News Service

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