Indio homicide suspect pleads not guilty

INDIO, Calif. - One of two men accused in a May 28 gang-related shooting in Indio pleaded not guilty to a murder charge on Friday.

Steven Moses Rapan, 23, of Indio is charged, along with 21-year-old Gary Griffin Ramirez, in the death of 37-year-old Douglas Yanez Jr., who was found dead near Kenner Street and Yucca Lane. A special circumstance allegation of murder for the benefit of a street gang makes them eligible for the death penalty if convicted.

Rapan was arrested July 3, after being at large for more than a month. Ramirez was taken into custody on June 11 and pleaded not guilty a few weeks ago.

Rapan was arraigned this morning at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, and he and Ramirez are both due back in court on Aug. 11 for a felony settlement conference.

According to a declaration filed in support of an arrest warrant, a man told police that Ramirez and ``Ziggy'' -- Rapan's gang moniker -- ``accused him of not being down for the hood'' and started a fight with him after he refused to hang out with him, and Rapan fired at a truck the man left in.

The man got some friends together, including Yanez, to ``deal with'' Rapan and Ramirez, Indio Police Detective Jeremy Hellawell wrote in the declaration.

The witness alleged Yanez stopped his truck at Kenner and Yucca near Rapan and Ramirez, got out and was shot several times by Rapan.

Another person told police that the defendants believed the man they challenged to a fight was hiding someone who shot a friend of theirs. The witness alleged the defendants said they would wait in a park for the man to return, and when he did, Rapan shot him ``several times'' and Ramirez shot him at least twice.

The witness identified Rapan and Ramirez in a photographic lineup, according to the declaration.

Rapan and Ramirez are both being held without bail at the county jail in Indio.

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