VISTA (CNS) - An Escondido resident accused of gunning down another man during a confrontation outside the defendant's trailer must stand trial for murder, a judge ruled Thursday.
Michael James Hemphill, 58, allegedly shot 35-year-old Brandon Sanchez in the chest with a pistol in the 600 block of McDonald Lane in Escondido shortly before 8:30 p.m. last April 24. Sanchez died at the scene.
Detectives questioned Hemphill, who said the shooting was an accident, before arresting him, according to Lt. Neal Griffin of the Escondido Police Department.
The suspect confronted the victim as the victim was doing landscaping work at the property, where Hemphill rents backyard space for his older-model trailer, according to Griffin. Sanchez was acquainted with the owner and had done maintenance work and other odd jobs for her, the lieutenant said.
Investigators believe Hemphill harbored resentment toward the victim, who lived with his parents in Escondido, for contacting him on prior occasions about unpaid rent and other concerns on behalf of the property owner, police officials said.
Following Thursday's preliminary hearing, Vista Judge Timothy Casserly ruled that enough evidence was presented for Hemphill to stand trial.
Hemphill faces 35 years to life in prison if convicted of murder and an allegation that he personally used a firearm in the killing, said Deputy District Attorney Laurie Hauf.
A readiness conference was set for Nov. 4 and trial for Jan. 20.