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Jury seated for trial of felon accused of fatally stabbing bicyclist

 

Last updated 11/15/2018 at 6:49pm

MURRIETA - A jury was seated on Thursday, Nov. 14 for the trial of a convicted felon accused of fatally stabbing a 43-year-old bicyclist during a confrontation in Menifee.

Ronny Joe Mitchell, 50, of Murrieta is charged with first-degree murder and a sentence-enhancing weapon allegation for the October 2015 slaying of Moses Almarez.

After two days of jury selection, Riverside County Superior Judge Mark Mandio swore in a panel to hear the case at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta. Mandio ordered jurors to return to court Monday morning for opening statements. The trial is expected to last a week.

According to the prosecution, the defendant did not know Almarez but became enraged after the victim allegedly made a caustic remark to the son of a co-worker, culminating in the Oct. 4, 2015, attack.

A trial brief filed by Deputy District Attorney Sean Crandell states that Mitchell had parked in front of the home of his coworker, identified only as "Fred,'' at the end of a workday at a construction site. The defendant did not live anywhere near the property in the 25500 block of Third Street, which prompted Fred to become concerned when he spotted him outside, according to Crandell's brief, which says Fred was heading out to investigate when the victim rode by on his bike and made a snide comment to Fred's adult son, Fred Jr., and his friend, Jerry, who were working on a car in the driveway.

Jerry asked Almarez whether he wanted to say anything to his face, and the victim stopped as if to physically challenge the young man, according to the prosecution's narrative.

Fred Sr. called his son and Jerry back to the house before a fight erupted, but Crandell alleged that Mitchell got out of his vehicle and approached Almarez, saying he would "save his life,'' to which the victim

replied, "You ain't saving (expletive)!''

The prosecutor alleged that Mitchell stabbed Almarez twice in the chest with a knife, penetrating more than five inches deep, puncturing the victim's lungs. Mitchell then turned to the witnesses and threatened to harm them if they revealed his identity, after which he drove away in his sedan, the prosecution alleges.

Almarez managed to stagger a short distance before collapsing dead in the street.

Sheriff's detectives confirmed that Mitchell was the alleged assailant within a week and began searching for him. He was arrested without incident at his girlfriend's San Dimas residence on Oct. 29.

An autopsy later revealed that Almarez had methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death. Crandell said the victim did not know Fred or the others, so the reason for his alleged hostility remains a mystery.

According to court records, Mitchell has prior convictions for dealing cocaine, assault with a deadly weapon and robbery.

 

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