Crime and Courts

Teen driver pleads guilty in homeless woman's pellet-gun ‘hobo hunting' death in San Diego

The accused killer, William Innes, is charged with murder and various firearm-related counts and remains in custody without bail


A 19-year-old man whom prosecutors say drove the alleged killer of a homeless woman to the Serra Mesa location where she was fatally shot with a pellet gun pleaded guilty Thursday to assault with a deadly weapon.

Ryan Hopkins now faces up to three years in state prison for his role in the shooting of 68-year-old Annette "Grannie Annie" Pershal, whom police found unconscious on the morning of May 8 on Sandrock Road.

NBC 7's Dave Summers found out how investigators were led to the victim after she was shot by a pellet gun.

Pershal was shot in her head, leg and torso, with one pellet rupturing her aorta, according to Deputy District Attorney Roza Egiazarian. She died in a hospital three days later.

Prosecutors say Hopkins drove 18-year-old co-defendant William Innes to the scene after Innes allegedly announced over a group chat, "I'm going hobo hunting with a pellet gun."

Hopkins' defense attorney, Vikas Bajaj, said after his client's change of plea hearing that Hopkins "made a series of uninformed decisions and found himself looking at a very serious felony as a person who doesn't have a criminal history."

NBC 7's Dave Summers spoke to people who knew the victim

Bajaj said Hopkins has "a warm and caring heart," and indicated he will argue for a sentence of probation.

"I believe nothing greater than probation is the right result. … Many people have made horrible decisions when we're much younger," Bajaj said. "This is what you would say is a classic case of aberrant behavior. A singular bad decision that is exacerbated by the criminal actions of another that then put him in the position as an unfortunate felon defendant."

According to Egiazarian, Innes sent the "hobo hunting" message 20 minutes before Pershal was shot.

The prosecutor alleged the pair then drove to Sandrock Road, where Pershal's encampment was located, and Innes fired four or five times out of the car at the victim.

Hopkins and Innes were arrested earlier this month; the pellet gun allegedly used in the killing was found at Innes' home, the prosecutor said.

Hopkins is out on $75,000 bail and is slated to return to court for an Oct. 27 sentencing hearing.

Innes is charged with murder and various firearm-related counts and remains in custody without bail. He is due back in court on Nov. 8 for a preliminary hearing.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
Contact Us