An 18-year-old man accused of involvement in the gang-related stabbing death of an El Cajon resident pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder and assault with a deadly weapon charges.
Francisco Gabriel Meza is charged in the Dec. 12 slaying of 19-year-old Kyle Khamphan, along with Luis Mondragon Pedroza, also 18, who faces the same counts. Both defendants are being held in lieu of $2 million bail.
A 17-year-old, whose name was not released, was also arrested on “homicide-related charges,” said El Cajon police Lt. Rob Ransweiler, but the teen’s status was unclear.
Khamphan was driven in a private vehicle to Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa a week ago Tuesday night following a fight in the 700 block of East Park Avenue in El Cajon, but was dead on arrival of stab wounds to his upper body, police said. When officers arrived at the scene of the fight, all combatants had fled, but officers later located an injured 17-year-old who was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Detectives launched a homicide investigation about 8:20 that night when Khamphan was dropped off at the La Mesa hospital, believing the fight and stabbings were gang-related.
The detectives tracked down Pedroza late Monday morning. They pulled over a sedan on the shoulder of state Route 125 near Grossmont Boulevard in La Mesa, where he was arrested and an unidentified woman detained, Ransweiler said.
Detectives worked throughout that day and into the evening, serving multiple search warrants as they looked for evidence of the crime and the other two suspects, the lieutenant said. The effort resulted in the arrests of Meza and the unidentified 17-year-old.
Meza and Pedroza will be back in court Dec. 27 for a readiness conference and Jan. 4 for a preliminary hearing.
–City News Service
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