A pair of reputed gang members accused of killing two men and wounding another in a 2015 attack on a Riverside street made their initial court appearances Friday.
Antoine Deshawn James, 39, of Bakersfield and Abiance Linece Turner, 25, of San Diego were arrested Wednesday during a multi-jurisdictional operation involving Riverside police and other agencies.
Both defendants are charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and special circumstance allegations of taking multiple lives in the same crime, killing a witness to a crime and committing a murder for the benefit of a criminal street gang, along with a hate crime allegation. James is additionally charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
They appeared before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Helios Hernandez, who appointed them a public defender for temporary joint representation. However, the defendants are expected to have separate attorneys by the time of their Jan. 6 arraignment at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
Both are being held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.
A third defendant, 24-year-old Anthony Lovell Eddington II, was fatally shot after he allegedly opened fire on Fresno County sheriff’s deputies and U.S. Marshals who attempted to arrest him Wednesday morning.
The defendants are accused of gunning down Guatemalan nationals Juan Antonio Bartolo, 45, and Domingo Esteban, 26, on the night of Oct. 23, 2015. A 26-year-old man, whose name was not released, was shot in the face nearby. He survived.
Bartolo and Esteban were targeted on Kansas Avenue, near Seventh Street, shortly after 9 p.m. The other victim was struck by gunfire while walking nearby. Bartolo was pronounced dead at the scene, and Esteban died the next day at Riverside Community Hospital.
Security surveillance videotape obtained from a business immediately after the killings captured images of one of the shooters walking on a sidewalk. Images showed a man in his 20s, about 6 feet tall, moving briskly through the area, armed with a handgun.
According to police, none of the victims were affiliated with a gang. However, Riverside’s Eastside quarter has been plagued by gang violence in the past.
In addition to James and Turner, during Wednesday’s sweep, authorities arrested 34-year-old T. W. Smith of Apple Valley and 30-year-old Richard Stuckey of Riverside for alleged parole and weapons violations. Smith is being held at the West Valley Detention Center in San Bernardino.
Stuckey, who is being held in lieu of $80,000 bail at the Robert Presley Jail, pleaded not guilty Friday to being a felon in possession of a firearm.
According to court records, James is an ex-con with prior convictions for being an accessory to a felony, gang activity, being a felon in possession of a firearm and being in possession of contraband in jail. Turner has prior misdemeanor convictions for assault and shoplifting.
According to Fresno County sheriff’s officials, Eddington was located at a house in the 600 block of College Avenue in Coalinga.
Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti said that when deputies ordered the defendant out of the residence, he emerged “with a handgun and began firing toward deputies.” A SWAT member returned fire, killing him on the spot, Botti said.
–City News Service