Suspect in Lake Elsinore Circle K killing pleads not guilty

MURRIETA – A man accused of gunning down a 47-year-old Lake Elsinore store clerk during a robbery pleaded not guilty today to murder and other charges.

James Curtis Coon, 26, of Lake Elsinore, is charged with the June 14 slaying of Eric Whitecomb of Wildomar, who had worked at the Circle K store in the 16300 block of Lakeshore Drive for more than a decade.

Along with the first-degree murder count, Coon is charged with attempted murder, robbery, burglary and a special circumstance allegation of killing in the course of a robbery.

He was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mark Mandio, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for July 28 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.

Coon is being held without bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.

Whitecomb was reportedly wrapping up his shift when the convenience store was robbed about 5:25 a.m. He was shot multiple times and died at the scene. Another individual, identified in court documents only as “R.D.,”  was in the line of fire, but was not hit. Authorities did not specify whether the surviving victim was a co-worker or customer.

The assailant fled the location immediately afterward. Within 12 hours, Coon was in custody. He has no documented prior felony convictions.

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