RIVERSIDE, Calif. - A Riverside woman accused of robbing her 66-year-old roommate and killing her with a machete must stand trial for murder and other allegations, a judge ruled Thursday.
Ruthetta Lois Hopson, 39, could face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of the murder count, as well as special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and killing during the course of a robbery in the October death of Laverna Sue Brown.
Following an hourlong preliminary hearing Thursday, during which two detectives and a pathologist testified, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Richard Fields ruled there was sufficient evidence to bound Hopson over for trial.
The judge set a post-indictment arraignment in the case for May 3 and ordered the defendant to remain held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.
The District Attorney's Office has not announced whether it will seek capital punishment for Hopson.
That decision ultimately will be District Attorney Paul Zellerbach's to make.
Hopson's boyfriend and codefendant, 30-year-old Julius Patrick Thomas, died in his jail cell on Dec. 15, apparently by his own hand, though an exact cause of death has not been disclosed.
Prosecutors filed charges against the pair in November.
According to Riverside police, Brown was found dead in her parked car on Fremont Street, near Riverside Municipal Airport, on the morning of Oct. 29.
The victim, who had been hacked with a machete, shared a residence on Magnolia Avenue with Hopson.
When Brown failed to make a flight east to see family members, they reported her missing, leading to a search during which officers located her vehicle and remains.