Three Accused of Gunning Down Perris Man On Christmas Eve

Connor Forbes
Connor Forbes
3 Min Read

Perris Man Murdered on Christmas Eve

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A convicted felon and two other individuals accused of killing a 27-year-old Perris man on Christmas Eve pleaded not guilty Monday to murder and other charges.

Miguel Angel Villegas, 30, Andrik Avalos Villasenor, 21, and Kassandra Lepe, 21 — all of Hemet — were arrested in December following a Riverside County Sheriff’s Department investigation into the slaying of Rafael Morales in Perris.

Along with murder, Villegas and Villasenor are charged with robbery and burglary. Villegas is additionally charged with firearm assault and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations. Lepe is additionally charged with receiving stolen property.

The trio were arraigned together Monday before Superior Court Judge Gail O’Rane, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for Sept. 12 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

Lepe and Villasenor are each being held in lieu of $1 million bail — her at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, him at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside. Villegas is being held without bail at the downtown jail.

According to sheriff’s Sgt. Ed Baeza, about 11 p.m. on Dec. 24, the trio were involved in an unspecified confrontation with Morales at a residence in the 300 block of West Seventh Street, near Perris Boulevard.

During the encounter, the victim was shot at least once in the upper body, Baeza said.

Witnesses called 911, and deputies and paramedics converged on the location within minutes, pronouncing Morales dead at the scene.

Baeza said Central Homicide Unit detectives quickly identified Villegas and Villasenor as two of the alleged assailants. Both were tracked to separate locations the following day and taken into custody without incident.

Lepe was identified later and arrested on East Florida Avenue in Hemet.

Neither she nor Villasenor has documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County. However, Villegas has priors for assault resulting in great bodily injury, auto theft, driving under the influence of drugs and statutory rape, according to court records.

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