Two of three documented gang members accused in the fatal stabbing of a man outside a Fallbrook supermarket pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder charges, plus gang and hate crime allegations.
Tyler James Dean, 25, and Ryan Thomas Valdez, 18, are accused, along with Kevin Garcia, of attacking 33-year-old Hugh Pettigrew as the victim was walking home from a McDonald’s restaurant about 10:45 p.m. on Jan. 22, according to sheriff’s officials.
Garcia, 21, is also charged in the murder and is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.
Investigators believe Pettigrew was attacked because of his race, Lt. Kenneth Nelson said. The victim was black, and the suspects are Latino.
Following the assault in the 400 block of Ammunition Road, the assailants got into a red 1997 Honda Civic parked in front of the nearby Albertsons store and were driven away by an unidentified woman, sheriff’s investigators said.
Pettigrew managed to walk to his Alturas Road home before collapsing. Family members called 911, and medics took the victim to a hospital, where he died 18 days later due to complications from his wounds.
A surveillance camera captured images of the suspects and the car in which they left the crime scene. That evidence, witness statements and other findings led investigators to identify Dean, Garcia and Valdez as the alleged killers, according to Nelson.
The getaway driver has been identified and interviewed and currently is considered a witness in the case, the lieutenant said.
Dean and Garcia have been in custody on unrelated charges since February and were re-booked Monday in connection with the homicide. Valdez was arrested without incident in Fallbrook on Monday.
A readiness conference is scheduled May 12 and a preliminary hearing for May 17.
–City News Service