Crime

Jury seated in trial for Indio hotel murder

Colorado man accused of shooting a woman

INDIO, Calif. - A jury was seated Monday for the murder trial of a Colorado man accused of fatally shooting a woman during a drug-fueled night inside an Indio hotel room.

Opening statements are slated for Tuesday morning at the Larson Justice Center in Indio for the trial of Aaron Drayer, 22, of Denver, who is charged with murder and a sentence-enhancing allegation of using a firearm in the Jan. 15, 2017, shooting death of 32-year-old Liliana Yanez.

Just after 2 a.m. that day, Drayer, Yanez and several others were allegedly using drugs inside a room at the Royal Plaza Inn, 82347 Highway 111, when he and Yanez got into an argument.  Drayer allegedly shot her once in the chest. She died at the scene.

A prosecutor's trial brief alleges that acquaintances of Yanez met Drayer at a casino and invited him back to the hotel.

Witness accounts detailed in the brief differ in the details but generally concur that once there, Drayer became agitated with Yanez, who was speaking loudly on her cellphone, then allegedly shot her when she wouldn't hang up.

Watch: Family confirms identity of woman killed at Indio hotel

Several witnesses said Drayer may have become angry in the belief that someone had tampered with a hollowed-out book in which he allegedly transported drugs. The brief alleges that Drayer told a friend that he confronted Yanez over trying to steal from him and she tried to reach for his gun, prompting him to grab it first and shoot her.

The locked "book safe'' was found by officers inside the hotel room, the prosecutor's brief states. Substances consistent with methamphetamine and cocaine were found inside the book safe, along with boxes of ammunition, according to the brief.

Drayer allegedly fled in an SUV with Colorado plates, which belonged to a family friend. San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies caught up with the SUV owner, who said she lent Drayer the vehicle several days before and that he had the SUV on the night of Jan. 14.

Drayer was found later that day hiding inside a bathroom in the woman's Joshua Tree home and was arrested after allegedly trying to flee through a window. More ammunition and drugs were allegedly found inside the SUV.

Drayer is being held on $2 million bail.


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