Party stabbing suspect pleads not guilty

Police say 18-year-old suspect returned to crime scene and was arrested

INDIO, Calif. - An 18-year-old Indio resident pleaded not guilty Thursday to stabbing a 17-year-old boy to death at a house party.

Damian Leon, who is charged with murder and sentence-enhancing weapons allegations, was arraigned Thursday afternoon at the Larson Justice Center in Indio and is due back in court June 9 for a felony settlement conference.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Charles Stafford kept his bail at
$1 million.

According to witnesses, Leon was seen running from the 81-600 block of
De Oro Avenue in Indio, where Ezequiem Munoz was found suffering from stab wounds around 3:45 a.m. Saturday following a fistfight involving several people outside a home during a party.

While officers were still on the scene, Leon returned to the De Oro Avenue home and was eventually arrested, Indio Police Department spokesman Ben
Guitron said. A knife that police believe was used in the stabbing was
recovered, he said.

Munoz, who lived in Indio, died at John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital
about 90 minutes after being attacked, according to the Riverside County
Coroner's Office.

Leon was being held at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.

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