Hearing set for woman accused of killing former beau

MURRIETA  – A preliminary hearing is scheduled Friday for a woman accused of fatally shooting the father of her child during a confrontation in a Menifee restaurant.

Amanda Jeanne Harwood of Big Bear, 37, is charged with first-degree murder and a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait in the October 2015 slaying of 39-year-old Joseph Hennings of Murrieta.

Friday’s hearing before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Stephen Gallon will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant a trial.

Harwood is being held without bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.

According to Riverside County sheriff’s officials, on the afternoon of Oct. 9, 2015, Harwood drove to Menifee to meet Hennings, with whom she had been in a relationship for an unspecified period, to arrange a child custody exchange.

The defendant and victim met inside the McDonald’s restaurant in the 28000 block of Bradley Drive, just off Interstate 215, and while they were speaking, she allegedly pulled a handgun and opened fire, inflicting fatal wounds, investigators said.

Harwood remained at the restaurant after the shooting and was taken into custody without incident, according to sheriff’s officials.

Paramedics pronounced Hennings dead at the scene 10 minutes later. The child, whose identity was not released, was taken into protective custody.

If Gallon determines the case should proceed to trial, the District Attorney’s Office will decide at a later time whether to seek capital punishment for the defendant, in the event she’s convicted.

Harwood has traffic-related convictions in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, but nothing more serious.

Also see: Victim in McDonald’s shooting identified as Murrieta man


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