MURRIETA – A man and woman accused in the slaying of a Wildomar man to prevent him from testifying in a criminal case pleaded not guilty today to first-degree murder and other charges.
Anthony Albert Garcia, 32, and Summer Sharmaine Stephens, 37 — both of Wildomar — could face life in prison without the possibility of parole — or the death penalty — if convicted in the Sept. 18 fatal assault.
Matthew Warner, 13, is also charged with murder in the case. However, he’ll be tried separately in juvenile court.
The 41-year-old victim’s name has not been released because of complications reaching his family.
Along with murder, Garcia and Stephens are charged with special circumstance allegations of killing during a robbery, lying in wait and killing to prevent a witness from testifying.
Garcia and Stephens appeared today with their attorneys before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Michael Rushton, who set a felony settlement conference in the case for Dec. 7.
Garcia and Stephens are being held without bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta. Warner is being held at Southwest Juvenile Hall.
The trio is accused of killing a witness to an August assault in Lake Elsinore, allegedly committed by associates of the defendants, according to prosecutors.
The fatal attack occurred in a vacant structure in the 20000 block of Mariposa Road, sheriff’s officials said.
Deputies were called to the location around 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 18 to investigate reports of an assault. When they arrived, they found Garcia bleeding from a head wound outside. When they stepped inside, they discovered a dead man, later determined to be the victim of a homicide, said sheriff’s Sgt. Todd Torrenti.
Garcia, Stephens and Warner were arrested during the ensuing investigation.