Trial set for man accused of committing 2011 murder

Victim's remains found in Sky Valley

INDIO, Calif. - (CNS) - A Nov. 1 trial date was set Friday for one of two men accused of murdering a 21-year-old man whose remains were found in the desert several months after he went missing.

Luis Raul Diaz, 37, is charged -- along with Andrew Michael De Los Santos -- in the murder of Shane Ayala, who was reported missing from Palm Springs area in August 2011.

Both defendants also are charged with a special circumstance allegation of murder in the commission of a kidnapping, but the District Attorney's Office did not seek capital punishment for either man.

Attorneys previously said Diaz and De Los Santos will likely be tried separately.  A trial date has not been set for De Los Santos, whose next courtdate is Nov. 15.  Both are being held without bail.

Ayala was killed on or about Aug. 24, 2011. Hikers found his remains Dec. 19, several miles north of Thousand Palms Canyon and Dillon roads in Sky Valley, Riverside County Sheriff's Department officials said.

According to an affidavit filed by police in support of an arrest warrant, De Los Santos told authorities that he and Diaz agreed to take Ayala to Indio to buy heroin.

De Los Santos said that when he returned to his Cathedral City residence with Diaz, they saw someone had kicked in the front door and stolen drugs and a weapon, the affidavit said. ``De Los Santos said he was sure Ayala was responsible, became angry and immediately began to beat and punch Ayala,'' Riverside County Sheriff's Department Investigator Martin Alfaro wrote.

According to the affidavit Alfaro prepared, De Los Santos and Diaz forced Ayala into Diaz's vehicle and drove him to the desert, where he tried to run away.

When Ayala turned and saw Diaz pointing a handgun at him, he stopped running and began ``begging (Diaz) not to shoot him,'' the affidavit alleges.  ``De Los Santos said (Diaz) walked Ayala out of his sight and shot Ayala to death,'' Alfaro wrote.

According to the affidavit, De Los Santos said he and another man returned to the scene about a month later and burned Ayala's body with diesel fuel.

Deputy District Attorney Manny Bustamante said that, according to Diaz, De Los Santos shot Ayala.

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